A $30 million increase in spending on the Rome Lab and protections against shrinking the workforce at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service are among the priorities for Congressman Anthony Brindisi, D-22nd Dist. as Congress takes up defense spending, he said on Monday.
Brindisi told a remote news conference he will include a provision calling for a $30 million increase in spending at Rome Lab on quantum computing, unmanned aerial vehicle research and work in countering drones in the annual defense authorization bill coming before Congress.
Quantum computing is an area of computer science dealing with the molecular level and is widely considered the route to much more powerful, fast and efficient computing.
Rome Lab, formally called the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Information Directorate, is among Oneida County’s largest employers and is based at Griffiss Business and Technology Park, the former air base in Rome.
“I think Rome can be a center of quantum research and development, and this investment will put them on a good footing to do so because we have to keep pace with our adversaries who are making advancements in this area,” Brindisi said.
Rome Lab two weeks ago took part in what the Air Force called a first-of-its-kind virtual quantum collider pitch event. It resulted in the AFRL awarding $5.25 million to 23 small businesses to expedite advancement and innovation of quantum technologies.
In an AFRL announcement Monday following up on the event, Rome Lab Deputy Director Michael Hayduk said “the U.S. military is leading the acceleration of quantum research and development as first adopters for this fundamental technology to move the ball forward....Quantum will lead to technologies that will transform the war-fighting domain in revolutionary and unprecedented ways.”
Rome Lab director Col. Timothy Lawrence said “we will continue to invest in pitch events like this that expand our government ecosystem by leveraging academia/corporate investment, and look forward to the grand opening of our Quantum Innovation Center of Excellence here in Rome...this summer.”
Brindisi has noted that an Open Innovation Campus and a Quantum Information Science Innovation Center are being developed in Rome in conjunction with the lab.
Among additional defense priorities cited Monday by Brindisi, he said he will add a provision calling on the Pentagon to inform Congress of any plans to reduce the workforce at DFAS, also a major employer at Griffiss.
There is no threat to employment at DFAS, which Brindisi said a recent report by Congress’ research office showed is one of the most efficient parts of the Defense Department.
“What i am working to do is make sure that in this national defense authorization act the Pentagon has to come to congress if there is any chance of a reduction in the workforce at DFAS,” Brindisi said.
Brindisi also told 22nd District reporters he wants to:
• Expand mental health care for services members, particularly suicide prevention.
• Obtain previsions reducing defense dependency on foreign countries for rare earth metals, strengthen the Navy’s freedom of navigation operations, and oppose Chinese claims in the South China Sea.
• Support spending on defense manufacturing, including of helicopters built with components in the Southern Tier.
In avoiding foreign outsourcing, Brindisi cited a law adopted in the past year that would have the Defense Department buy flatware domestically, which benefits Sherrill Manufacturing, believed to be the only remaining U.S. based maker of forks, knives and spoons. The legislation was originally started by his predecessor, New Hartford Republican Claudia Tenney, whom he defeated in 2018 and whom he faces in a rematch in November.
Brindisi touted himself as the only upstate member of the House Democratic majority on the Armed Services Committee, a post he got in his second year in office. “Our region has a seat at the table,” he said.
On other matters, Brindisi said the Trump administration should fully brief Congress on intelligence warnings that Russia was paying the Taliban to target U.S. and NATO personnel in Afghanistan. And he said he hopes
Congress keeps trying bills on police reform despite the Senate failing to agree on a measure after the House adopted a bill on the subject.