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Federal Funding Plan Could Help Arsenal Stay Competitive

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The QCA's largest employer may be getting a big boost.

$225 million could be on its way to the Rock Island Arsenal and two other arsenals in the U.S.

The money is part of a Senate spending bill for the Defense Department's next fiscal year, which begins October 1, 2014. The bill passed the Senate appropriations subcommittee and will be discussed in full committee on Thursday, July 17, 2014.

"I'm chairing that hearing," said U.S. Senator Richard Durbin, (D) Illinois, who spoke with WQAD on Wednesday, July 16, 2014. "I have good response from Democrats and Republicans. I think we're going to pass it through the committee."

The money would help the Rock Island Arsenal's Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center (JMTC) keep its work rates competitive and keep up with demand.

"What we've gone to the military and said is - we know that we're coming home from this war, but we know that there's going to continue to be commands for skilled craftsmen who can provide the resources, technology, and equipment we need to keep America safe," Sen. Durbin said. "We want you to come to the Arsenal first. We have thousands of workers at that Arsenal who have proven through generations that they can do the job for America."

Sen. Durbin says the Rock Island Arsenal's accounting system is "archaic and convoluted," which makes it difficult for them to bid a contract.

"They have to build in all sorts of extra cost," he said. "So, what we're trying to do with this appropriation is to give them a level playing field so they can compete and the taxpayers can win."

If the bill passes committee, Sen. Durbin says he hopes to bring the bill to the Senate floor or "work out an agreement so that we can have an omnibus appropriations bill by the end of the year."