Defense spending bill pumps millions of dollars into South Dakota

NDAA will also help school districts anticipating student growth due to the new B-21 bomber mission
Ellsworth Air Force Base will be the first installation to house a B-21 Raider squadron.
Ellsworth Air Force Base will be the first installation to house a B-21 Raider squadron.(Northrop Grumman)
Published: Dec. 16, 2022 at 2:24 PM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - With the Senate passage of the fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, the military mandated COVID-19 vaccination is one step closer to being rescinded. But that controversial issue is just a small part of the bill.

The $858 billion NDAA now just needs the president’s approval. It is $45 billion more than President Joe Biden requested and about 10 percent more than last year’s NDAA.

South Dakota and Ellsworth Air Force Base will benefit quite a bit from the NDAA. According to a release from Senator John Thune’s office, it includes funding for the future B-21 bomber mission, $336 million for new facility construction and the revival of a program to help school districts accommodate significant growth in student populations because of more military families moving to the area.

“Providing for our nation’s defense is one of the most serious and consequential responsibilities for members of Congress,” Thune said. “I am committed to ensuring that Ellsworth Air Force Base and its surrounding communities have everything they need for the B-21 bomber mission so Ellsworth can continue to serve as one of our nation’s essential military assets for decades to come.”

“This crucial bill is a prime example of Congress putting politics aside to provide for our strategic national security interests and to achieve results for our service members and their families. I am pleased this bipartisan legislation is heading to the president’s desk to be signed into law,” Senator Mike Rounds added.

Here are what the senators say are NDAA priorities for South Dakota:

  • $3.25 billion for B-21 bomber development and $1.78 billion for low-rate initial production of the aircraft
  • $335.9 million for military construction
  • $15 million for school districts serving military families’ students to accommodate enrollment changes due to base closures, force structure changes, or force relocations
  • Extends DoD authority to increase Basic Allowance for Housing in regions of high demand
  • Extends prohibition on reducing B-1 maintenance personnel or further reduction in aircraft unless replaced with B-21s
  • Establishes a dynamic airspace pilot program that would bolster training ranges like the Powder River Training Complex
  • $23 million for B-1 bomber squadrons, including $10 million for hypersonic integration validation testing
  • Extends $12 million authorization for Joe Foss Field aircraft maintenance shops
  • Multi-year procurement authority for Long Range Anti-Ship Missiles and Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles used by the B-1