WASHINGTON – Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04) co-sponsored the bipartisan Army Arsenal Revitalization Act (AARA) on Thursday (March 3), a bill which aims to increase the amount of business directed to Army arsenals, such as the Pine Bluff Arsenal.
Westerman joined lead co-sponsor Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) and CongressmanPaul Tonko (NY-20), both of whom represent districts with manufacturing arsenals. Representatives Dave Loebsack (IA-02) and Tammy Duckworth (IL-08) also signed on as original co-sponsors. In the U.S. Senate, similar legislation was introduced by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
“The Army Arsenal Revitalization Act is essential to the Pine Bluff Arsenal and others across the nation,” Westerman said. “Our nation’s arsenals need the tools necessary to be viable in an increasingly competitive economy. The AARA will allow arsenals across America to not only stay competitive, but possibly increase the size of workforces in struggling communities like Pine Bluff. I want to thank Congresswoman Bustos for her efforts to revitalize our nation’s arsenals and I look forward to quick action on this bill.”
“The Rock Island Arsenal not only strengthens our national security by manufacturing equipment that protects our troops, but it is also the engine that drives our region’s economy,”Bustos said. “This legislation will remove barriers to the Arsenal’s success, and takes critical steps to bolster the Arsenal’s competitiveness for years to come.”
The Pine Bluff and Rock Island Arsenals play a necessary role in our armed forces by adapting to the needs of the military and quickly manufacturing critical items to protect our troops. Too often, unnecessary barriers prevent arsenals from engaging in manufacturing opportunities. As a result, arsenals have difficulty obtaining enough work to maintain a strong and skilled workforce. The Army Arsenal Revitalization Act requires the Department of Defense to identify work opportunities that the arsenals are uniquely qualified to meet. The legislation also allows arsenals to function more like a company by adjusting the rates they charge customers for labor as needed to be competitive with industry.
Specifically, the Army Arsenal Revitalization Act:
- Increases Competition Sources for Department of Defense Contracts: This bill requires the Department of Defense to identify legacy items and sole source contracts over a certain dollar amount and to consider Army arsenals as manufacturers for these items going forward.
- Adds Flexibility for Labor Rates Charged to Arsenal Customers: Army arsenals need the tools to keep themselves viable and competitive. The Army Arsenal Revitalization Act creates a 3-year pilot program in which arsenals will be able to adjust their labor rates throughout the year based upon their workloads and other factors instead of charging a fixed rate, which is often non-competitive.
- Identifies and Maintains Critical Capabilities: In order to meet national security needs, Army arsenals must maintain critical skill sets. This bill requires the Department of Defense to identify each arsenal’s critical capabilities and the workload they need to efficiently maintain those skills.