ADC’s effort to secure a new authority allowing DOD to provide funding to state and local governments for off-base infrastructure projects quickly gained momentum this year, with the House and Senate Armed Services committees each including language establishing a Defense Community Infrastructure Program in their versions of the defense authorization bill. And after the Senate last month approved an amendment allocating $20 million for the new initiative during consideration of the fiscal 2019 defense spending bill, the possibility that defense communities could obtain infrastructure funding in the coming year appeared favorable. But, alas, plans to take advantage of the new authority will need to be pushed back until at least FY 2020, after conferees negotiating the final version of a two-bill spending package covering the defense and labor-HHS-education titles dropped the $20 million allocation from the conference agreement reached Thursday.
Given the success enjoyed up until this week by ADC, the association’s Federal Outreach Advisory Committee, and the House and Senate Defense Communities Caucuses gaining the support of lawmakers to establish and fund a Defense Community Infrastructure Program, the conference committee’s decision comes as a disappointment. Still, ADC and its friends in Congress took a huge step forward this year in seeing the new authority become law, and there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic the coalition will secure funding next year for the program.