WASHINGTON — The Senate on Thursday approved its annual defense policy bill with significant support for Nebraska military installations.

The $750 billion legislation was approved 86-8. All four Republican senators from Nebraska and Iowa supported the bill and talked up the importance of its passage.

The House still has to pass its defense bill, and the two versions will then have to be reconciled before heading to President Donald Trump for his signature.

Sen. Deb Fischer a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the bill authorizes:

  • $340 million for disaster recovery at military installations such as Offutt Air Force Base.
  • $7.2 million intended to clean up and rebuild the Nebraska National Guard’s flooded Camp Ashland.
  • $247 million to determine the scope of rebuilding installations such as Offutt.
  • $29 million for construction of the Nebraska National Guard’s Bellevue Readiness Center.

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Fischer said she also was able to include language encouraging speedy work on disaster recovery projects and providing them with more flexibility.

The legislation also authorizes funding to:

  • Upgrade capabilities of Offutt’s RC-135 aircraft.
  • Continue the conversion of three KC-135R tankers into aircraft used to detect evidence of nuclear explosions.
  • Acquire new planes for Open Skies missions.

The bill also authorizes funding to cover a pending 3.1% pay raise for those in uniform.

Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, who is also a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the bill includes a number of her priorities — including expanded support for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

Sen. Ben Sasse, a member of the Intelligence Committee, noted that the bill covers various intelligence-related provisions, including an extension of the cyberwar commission he included in previous legislation.

Chuck Grassley, Iowa’s senior senator, said he supported the bill despite disappointment that his amendment to increase transparency in the contracting process was not adopted.

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Reporter - Politics/Washington D.C.

Joseph Morton is The World-Herald Washington Bureau Chief. Morton joined The World-Herald in 1999 and has been reporting from Washington for the newspaper since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @MortonOWH. Email:joseph.morton@owh.com

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