What's in $738B defense bill for CNY? John Katko details 'several key wins' for region

What's in $738B defense bill for CNY? John Katko details 'several key wins' for region

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U.S. Congressman John Katko speaks during a naturalization ceremony at The Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Auburn.

A $738 billion defense policy bill includes "several key wins" for central New York, U.S. Rep. John Katko said Wednesday. 

The House passed the National Defense Authorization Act by a 377-48 vote. The final vote followed negotiations between House and Senate conferees. Katko, R-Camillus, served as a conferee for House Republicans. 

Katko summarized the benefits for central New York, including funding for 12 MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles. The drones are used by the Air National Guard's 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Field in Onondaga County. 

The defense bill allocates $44 million for a new unmanned aerial vehicle hangar at Fort Drum and there's funding for the F-35 fighter jet program. The radars for the jets will be manufactured by Lockheed Martin in central New York. 

There is funding for other radar projects that will benefit several central New York manufacturers, according to Katko's office. 

Katko noted the NDAA establishes the Quantum Information Science Innovation Center at Rome Lab. He called it "promising" for Rome Lab, which conducts research for the Air Force. 

"This measure strengthens our national security and will ensure our military is equipped to keep our country safe," Katko said. "Significantly for central New York, this measure delivers funding for the 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Field, Fort Drum and our local manufacturers that provide good-paying jobs in our community." 

There are major provisions in the defense bill, including a 3.1% raise for military service members, the creation of the Space Force and up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave for federal employees. 

Katko also highlighted the elimination of the "widows tax," which affects families that receive funds from two military survivor programs. There is an offset for families receiving benefits from both programs which can cost them up to $1,000 a month. The defense bill will phase out the "widows tax" over a three-year period. 

The Senate will consider the compromise bill next week. President Donald Trump will sign the measure. 

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