- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Senate Appropriations Committee yesterday passed an emergency supplemental spending bill that includes $3.2 billion for military construction projects required by the military’s Base Realignment and Closure Commission.

The last Congress failed to pass a military construction bill that would have funded the projects, leaving states with a mandate to complete the projects by 2011 but not enough money to do so.

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Maryland Democrat and senior member of the committee, was instrumental in restoring the money. She and other Maryland lawmakers sent a letter to the House and Senate Appropriations committees in February urging them to include the funding.

The BRAC plan is expected to bring more than 45,000 jobs to Maryland, and the state is scrambling to upgrade roads and mass transit in preparation for the influx. Anne Arundel County alone is asking for $5 billion from the state and the federal government to fund BRAC-related transportation projects.

A continuing resolution passed by Congress last month to fund the government through the rest of the fiscal year also did not include the money.

“While I applaud the bipartisan effort that worked on the [continuing resolution], I was very frustrated that the failure of the Republican leadership in the 109th Congress meant that crucial programs and funding were cut,” Miss Mikulski said. “But I promised to keep up my fight, and I am proud we have restored these critical funds.”

The bill includes $1.37 million for the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda. As part of BRAC, Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the District will close by 2011 and most of its functions will be absorbed by the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, which will be renamed.

The bill also includes $389 million for Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County and $15.6 million for Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County.

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