Congress adds funding for cyber, defense operations at Fort Gordon

The U.S. House passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 Wednesday, delivering increased funding for defense activities and other federal programs in the Augusta area and throughout the state.

 

The bill allotted nearly $1 billion for national cyber operations and a 2.1 percent pay increase for military personnel which added to total defense spending increases of more than $25 billion compared to 2016.

“Our number one priority is to run this government,” said Rep. Rick Allen, R-GA. “You hate to spend money but we have to handle the issues on our plate right now and this is a huge economic engine for our community.”

The CAA directs $6.7 billion, a $992 million increase over 2016, for cyber operations, including those at Fort Gordon. Fort Gordon is home to the Center for Cyber Excellence and is transitioning into headquarters for the U.S. Army Cyber Command.

Following that lead, Augusta University is expanding to build the Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center at the university’s Riverfront Campus in Downtown Augusta. Gov. Nathan Deal announced a $50 million pledge from the state early this year to support that effort.

“A lot of people say we could become the Silicon Valley of the East Coast,” said Allen, who is from Augusta. “Cyber is the new frontier in warfare and I am trying to do my part.”

The CAA comes seven months into the fiscal year, funded by continuing resolution legislation since the year began October 1. Allen expressed concern that appropriations bills aren’t being passed in a timely manner but said he thinks the fiscal year 2018 funding bills will be passed on time.

“As far as timing is concerned, I think we are fine,” he said. “I am proud of what we were able to do for our district and the state. The safety and security of the nation is top priority. The people of Georgia’s 12th district expect me to vote in their best interest, and today I believe I have done that. While this bill is far from perfect, I believe we must support President Trump and his priorities.”

Allen recently signed onto a letter addressed to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-WI, voicing readiness to overturn sequestration legislation put into place during the previous administration. His signature was among 141 Congressional Representatives, including South Carolina’s Joe Wilson, R-SC, whose district includes Aiken County and the Savannah River Site.

The letter said, “President Obama’s sequestration policy continues to harm our military and greatly diminishes our ability to defend our global position. As President Trump begins to prepare his budget for Fiscal Year 2018, it is imperative that we provide him with the ability to fully fund national defense.

Reach Thomas Gardiner at (706) 823-3339 or thomas.gardiner@augustachronicle.com

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