Stopgap Spending Bill Includes $350 Million for Hawai'i Water Crisis

Feb. 23, 2022

This funding will respond to the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility spill

The military will receive a $350 million boost in response to the water contamination crisis caused by Navy fuel storage in Hawai’i.

Congress cleared a stopgap spending measure containing the funding, reported the military.

This funding will respond to the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility spill, according to the military’s news release on the matter. This is a continuing resolution, or CR, to keep the government open through March 11. Lawmakers have three weeks to reach a deal on funding for the rest of the fiscal year. 

According to the military, the Senate approved the CR in a 65-27 vote. The bill was previously approved by the House and it now goes to the desk of President Joe Biden. Biden is expected to sign it before government funding runs out at the end of the day Feb. 25.

The Navy, Marine Corps, Army and Air Force will get $250 million to cover expenses related to the Hawai'i water contamination.

The CR provides $100 million to the Defense Department to comply with a Hawaiian order to drain the fuel tanks at Red Hill. According to the military, this is an order the department is fighting in court, however.

According to Navy officials, cleanup costs associated with the spill had already exceeded $250 million.

Thousands of military families and civilians are displaced because of the spill and others are bringing in outside water, reported the military. Thousands have been treated for nausea, headaches, rashes and other conditions related to the contamination.

The Hawai'i Department of Health recently declared one neighborhood’s water is now safe to drink and that 18 other neighborhoods remain under a do not drink advisory.

$1.6 billion may also be allocated to prevent delays in the Columbia-class submarine program, which is possible if it was forced to live under a full-year CR.

According to Defense officials, this could be the first year Congress funds the government with a CR for the entire year, which could impact training, permanent change of station orders, recruitment goals, bonuses and more, reported the military.

But lawmakers in recent weeks have expressed optimism they will reach a deal on regular government funding for fiscal year 2022 by the new March 11 deadline, which will be nearly six months after the fiscal year started.

Democratic and Republican appropriators in the House and Senate announced they had agreed on a “framework” for a government funding package and are fine-turning the details before March 11.

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Cristina Tuser

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