Funding of $14.2 million for a perimeter fence at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in Rome, plus eliminating a provision that could have threatened jobs at the Rome Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), are part of a newly passed federal defense bill.
But an amendment that would have allowed veterans and military retirees to use military fitness facilities such as the Colosseum Gym at Griffiss park was not in a final version of the legislation.
Local impacts of the new Fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) were outlined in announcements by U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both D-NY, and U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-22, New Hartford.
• The funding for the Rome AFRL facility at Griffiss park is to enhance anti-terrorism perimeter security and entry-point control, said Schumer and Gillibrand.
It will help in “protecting the men and women who work inside the lab,” commented Schumer, who said the facility “is a national leader and vital part of countering cyber-threats, and an engine for economic growth” locally.
Gillibrand said “we need to ensure Rome Lab has the funding it needs to continue its work to keep our nation safe from cyber-attacks, and this new federal investment will help the lab make major security upgrades to its facilities.”
Tenney also had sought the $14.2 million for the Rome lab fencing in the House of Representatives’ version of the NDAA before it proceeded to the Senate. Her office noted “the $14.2 million Rep. Tenney secured for the perimeter fence...was kept in the Senate version.”
• A Schumer and Gillibrand announcement cited “their successful efforts to eliminate a provision from the NDAA that required for a 25 percent cut to agencies that employ civilian workers, like DFAS. The senators successfully ensured that the Senate bill did not include these cuts, which could have threatened DFAS Rome jobs, and worked in tandem to assure the provision was not included in the final House-Senate conference legislation.”
Concerns about impacts including the potential loss of about 200 Rome DFAS jobs had been cited by a local DFAS union official in May. Rome DFAS has about 960 employees overall.
• Tenney’s provision that sought access for veterans to military fitness facilities was excluded from the Senate version of the NDAA, her office said. “To my deep disappointment, the provision allowing veterans access to fitness facilities was removed in the Senate’s changes. The veterans in our region deserve access...and I am disheartened that the Senate failed to act on this important fix,” said Tenney.
“This was a common-sense amendment that unanimously passed the House but was not included in the conference report due to a lack of similar language offered in the Senate.”
“Going forward,” Tenney added. “I will do all I can to ensure this legislation to reopen the gym to veterans becomes law and our nation’s heroes are fully supported.”