Protections for ICBM fleet in omnibus bill

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE Protections for the intercontinental ballistic missile fleet at Minot Air Force Base are among the North Dakota-related items in the omnibus spending bill that the House of Representatives approved Wednesday.

The bill includes a Rep. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., amendment from the House Defense Appropriations bill passed in July prohibiting the Obama administration from going forward with an environmental impact study on deconstructing ICBMs, the first step toward reducing or eliminating the fleet, according to a news release from Cramer’s office.

Minot AFB’s 91st Missile Wing has 150 Minuteman III ICBMs in underground launch facilities in the northwest area of North Dakota. The wing is one of three ICBM wings in the Air Force.

The bill also prevents the Air Force from retiring the Global Hawk Block 30 that is in the same aircraft family as the Global Hawk Block 20s and 40s at Grand Forks.

Savings resulting from the privatization of military family housing allow for a spending reduction of $133 million on the construction, operation and maintenance of family housing, according to the news release.

Cramer voted Wednesday with a bipartisan majority of 359 to 67 in the House of Representatives to pass the omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2014.

Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., authored provisions that are in the fiscal year 2014 omnibus appropriations bill to maintain the Minuteman III ICBM silos and the Global Hawk unmanned aerial system.

Hoeven offered the amendment last year when the Appropriations Committee drafted its fiscal year 2014 defense appropriations bill in response to an administration request to begin the process of closing up to 150 silos, according to a news release from Hoeven’s office. The provision in the omnibus denies the Department of Defense any funds to start making such reductions. Hoeven has stressed that the operational silos must be retained and are an important nuclear deterrent for the country.