A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday introduced legislation to help boost military spending, including expanding access to the Defense Department’s National Guard, and to provide $30 billion in economic stimulus for the state.
The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith, R-Sparks, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee.
It’s the latest effort by Republicans to try to shore up support in the state for the fiscal year 2018 budget, which runs through Jan. 31.
The measure would require all military pay to be posted to the state’s public employee retirement system by Sept. 30, 2018, and the state would also be required to expand a $30 million program to provide paid leave to federal employees and their dependents, including military personnel.
The proposal comes as a surprise for many Democrats, who had been skeptical of military pay, particularly for troops serving in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But Democrats were buoyed by the vote of the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee last week to approve $40 billion in military spending.
Republicans also passed a $1.3 billion measure to create the Army’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.
That was a big win for Sen. John Hoeven, R.-North Dakota, who was one of three Republicans to vote against the measure.
Republicans have proposed spending $1 billion to help the state rebuild its water system and $5 billion for construction of the North Dakota Industrial Renewal Center.
The bill’s sponsors, Reps.
Jeff Miller, R, N.C., and David Young, R., both from southern states, are hopeful that they can secure enough votes in the House to move forward with a vote in the Senate.
The Senate is expected to pass the measure in early June.
In an interview, Smith said the legislation will “give us the tools to make sure that we can make a dent in the deficit.”
“This is about ensuring that we’re paying our bills, but it’s also about making sure that this economy has a path to recovery,” he said.
“I think it’s very important for us to have a robust military that’s able to respond to contingencies in the future.”
Republican Rep. Steve Bousquet, R of Missouri, who co-sponsored the bill, said he was pleased that the state was making a commitment to spending money on infrastructure.
“It’s a huge investment in our state, and it’s going to be a real asset,” he told The Associated Press.