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Defense spending bill includes big money for Colorado, establishes Space Force

Posted at 11:31 AM, Dec 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-11 20:32:54-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — A region dependent upon its military installations will soon see a large influx in federal money tied to the defense spending bill in Congress.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020 includes an overall topline defense budget of $738 billion. From that, the Colorado Springs area looks to see $322 million in new construction spending, which includes money to establish the new U.S. Space Force within the Department of the Air Force.

The NDAA Conference, which brings the House and Senate Armed Services Committees together, authorizes the spending. The House passed the bill by a 377-48 vote late Wednesday.

Right now, the NDAA includes a 3.1 percent pay raise for military service members, which Republicans said is the largest increase in a decade.

And for an area with military service ingrained into its community, Reggie Ash chief defense development officer for the Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC told News 5 this helps keep Colorado Springs on the map for all military matters.

"Colorado Springs, we like to say, is the epicenter of national security space," Ash said.

Within the bill, Schriever Air Force Base will receive $148 million to build a Combined Space Operations Facility for the sixth branch of the military.

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado), a member of the House Armed Services Committee and ranking member on a readiness subcommittee, was a key player in getting his district that money.

Space Command is currently in a temporary space on Peterson Air Force Base. That's about to change, per Lamborn.

"We have a converted facility right now. This will be a stand-alone, built-to-purpose facility that will be cutting edge and critical for our nation's defense," Lamborn said in a phone interview Wednesday.

It's not just about bringing in more military service members.

The influx in construction will have a domino effect on other parts of the region, like our economy.

"That means a lot of people will be stationed here. It means that jobs will be created as industry comes in to support that important mission for the future," Lamborn said.

"Defense and veterans are over 40 percent of our economy in El Paso County, so the impact is just huge. And we need to continue to grow that, and this is something that does that," Ash said.

While the Department of Defense has not yet announced whether Colorado Springs will be the permanent home of Space Command and the Space Force, Lamborn said they're still working on establishing it as such.

Peterson Air Force Base is set to get $54 million, which will pay for a Theater Operational Support Facility for the U.S. Special Operations Command North.

Additionally, the bill earmarks $49 million to help consolidate cadet prep school dormitories at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

It also includes $71 million to pay for a Company Operations Facility on Fort Carson.

Military service members to receive a pivotal raise

Another key facet of the NDAA is a planned 3.1 percent raise for all military service members.

Lamborn said a focus of the bill, beyond just the premise of spending, was caring for military families.

"They're doing critical work defending our country, and they have to have the funds necessary to take care of their families, so they don't have to worry about that when they're doing their critical duties," Lamborn said.

It's not a done deal

Before the bill can officially become law, the Senate has to pass its version.

Additionally, Congress must pass an appropriations bill to decipher where the money to pay for everything is actually coming from.

Click here to read a summary of the bill from Republicans.