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House appropriations bill includes $20 million for East Coast missile site, possibly Fort Drum

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An appropriations bill passed Wednesday in the U.S. House of Representatives includes an amendment adding $20 million for the development of an East Coast missile site, possibly at Fort Drum.

The amendment was just one part of the $71 billion bill covering funding for military construction and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Fort Drum is one of five sites that the Department of Defense identified as finalists for the missile site. Also considered are Camp Ethan Allen, Vt.; Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center, Ohio; Naval Air Station Portsmouth SERE Training Area, Maine; and Fort Custer Training Center, Michigan.

Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, said he was not sure if the funding would have an immediate impact. That’s because it is designated for design and planning after the military determines it needs such a site.

The amendment came from Rep. Michael Turner of Ohio, one of the states pursuing the site. “It reflects the fact it’s a competition,” Mr. Owens said.

He said the amendment funding the site likely will be debated in conference with the Senate.

“How the Senate will respond to that is a ‘Who knows?’” Mr. Owens said.

The bill also keeps $27 million to create a hangar to house a fleet of MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones at Fort Drum’s Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield.

The unmanned 3,600-pound Gray Eagle, equipped with up to four Hellfire missiles, has been used for various missions, including surveillance, convoy protection and air support. It’s smaller than the 10,500-pound MQ-9 Reaper aircraft already used at the airfield by the New York Air National Guard.

Another portion of the bill was an amendment barring any funds to go toward closing military commissaries.

Mr. Owens said the stipulation was popular. “It’s one of those issues that goes to how we assist soldiers and families in their living expense situations,” he said. “They need that additional assistance.”

Another amendment prohibits any funding from going into a new round of Base Realignment and Closure.

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