Provisions to defense bill critical to jobs in South MS

Provisions to defense bill critical to jobs in South MS

BILOXI, MS (WLOX/AP) - Two provisions in a $585 billion defense bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives are critical to jobs in South Mississippi.

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker reports one of the provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act focuses on C-130Js at Keesler Air Force Base.

It prohibits the transfer of the planes stationed at Keesler until 60 days after financial reports are submitted to Congress.

Ten of the Flying Jennies were scheduled to be relocated to another Air Force base, and the 815th and 345th squads were set to be deactivated, but that decision was rescinded in July.

More than 600 employees are assigned to those squads. The Air Force has tried three times in the past two years to relocate the planes.

Another provision passed by the House pushes for more shipbuilding in Jackson County. The provision authorizes $800 million for shipbuilders at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula to build a 12th LPD-17 amphibious warship.

The Pascagoula shipyard has around 11,000 employees and is the largest manufacturing employer in Mississippi.

According to The Associated Press, the defense bill also grants President Barack Obama the authority to expand the U.S. military mission against Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria.

It also authorizes core funding for military operations, including a one percent pay raise for the troops.

"I am optimistic that the Senate will pass this bill next week and send it on to the President for his signature," said Wicker.

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