Tester Secures Funding for New $235 Million Weapons Generation Facility at Malmstrom – But President’s Emergency Declaration Puts Investment at Risk
Air Force Secretary unable to ensure Malmstrom funding is protected from White House plan to raid military funding for border wall
(U.S. Senate)-The U.S. Air Force made a commitment to Senator Jon Tester today to build a new $235 million Weapons Generation Facility at Malmstrom Air Force Base, but then failed to guarantee the funds would remain in the budget following the President's emergency disaster declaration. This facility will replace Malmstrom's current Nuclear Maintenance Facility, which is used to store and maintain the base's Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) warheads.
Tester secured the commitment from Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson during a Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the Air Force's Fiscal year 2020 budget request.
"There are safety, logistical and security challenges at Malmstrom and operations remain at risk because of failing infrastructure," Tester told Wilson. "And we are talking about a facility where ICBM warheads are maintained and stored. There is urgency here."
After Wilson committed that the $235 million for a new Weapons Generation Facility would be included in the 2020 budget for Malmstrom, Tester questioned what President Trump's attempt to move $3.6 billion out of the Defense Department's military construction budget would do to this new investment.
"The President's disaster declaration undermines our national security and threatens these vital upgrades at Malmstrom," Tester added after the hearing.
When Tester repeatedly asked Wilson to commit to guaranteeing that the Weapons Generation Facility would remain in the 2020 budget if Trump successfully enacts his emergency declaration, Wilson was unable to make the commitment.
The Senate is scheduled to vote on Trump's emergency declaration later this week, and prior to the vote, Tester will address his colleagues on the impact the declaration will have on the nation's military infrastructure.
The current Weapons Storage Facility at Malmstrom was constructed in the 1960's and is experiencing soil erosion, foundation problems, poor water drainage, and other issues that make it inefficient and dangerous for airmen.