Senator Dick Durbin was in Rock Island Friday discussing a piece of legislation that would help protect the Rock Island Arsenal’s future.
With the military’s presence in Afghanistan winding down and the United States facing a huge budget deficit, what does the future of the Rock Island Arsenal look like?
“They need to have the work sent their way,” said Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois.
Senator Durbin’s press conference at Schwiebert Park in Rock Island on Friday focused on the Department of Defense appropriations bill that passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday. The bill has several provisions to help protect the Rock Island Arsenal’s future, including ways to recruit more work from private companies.
“They`re not a guarantee, but they at least give us a fighting chance to keep the arsenal not only where it is today… but growing in the future,” said Durbin.
“It actually brings money into the arsenals, it reduces the overhead so they can start competing and actually do the work they’re supposed to do,” said Rock Island Mayor Dennis Pauley.
The bill also provides a 1% pay increase for troops and civilian military employees and increases health care funding for veterans, a piece of legislation to help with the sequester.
“If we don’t get rid of this sequestration, the pressures on him, the Department of Defense, all of us,” said Senator Durbin.
But a solution won’t come any time soon. Congress left Washington Friday for a five week vacation, leaving behind lots of legislation, including a budget. So what’s the reason nothing is getting done?
“That’s a good question. Well there’s some differences in political points of view,” said Senator Durbin.
Would a Governor Quinn style pay suspension help to get work done?
“I think that’s kind of extreme, cutting off the pay checks and expecting people to work harder. I think we should be able to do that without that. Plus, I don’t know how I’d explain it to my wife,” said Senator Durbin.
But a pay cut is something at least 6,000 Rock Island Arsenal workers know all too well.
The next step for the Department of Defense appropriations bill would be on the Senate floor. Senator Durbin says there is some Republican opposition, but he hopes it goes to the floor by September.