Air Force says it needs $4.9 billion in disaster relief

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Air Force said on Wednesday that it needs $4.9 billion in extra funding over the next three years to rebuild and repair two key bases heavily damaged by natural disasters.

“We desperately need the supplemental funding,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said, citing hurricane damage to Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida last fall and flood damage at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska this month.

The call for emergency funding comes amid debate between the Trump administration and Congress over the White House’s proposal to repurpose billions of dollars in military construction money to help extend a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The money sought by the Air Force — $1.2 billion this year and $3.7 billion in the 2020 and 2021 budget years — would have to be approved by Congress. Wilson said that if Congress does not take action by May or June the Air Force will have to put off dozens of construction and other improvement projects and perhaps take other cost-saving measures.

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Tyndall, which is a fighter base, took a direct hit from Hurricane Michael last October. Offutt, home to U.S. Strategic Command headquarters, which oversees the nation’s nuclear forces, was damaged by Missouri River flooding.

The Marine Corps says it sustained about $3.5 billion in damage at Camp Lejeune and surrounding facilities in North Carolina from Hurricanes Michael and Florence. Gen. Robert Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, wrote in a recent memo that a number of unexpected costs, including hurricane damage and unplanned deployments to the U.S.-Mexico border, are forcing the Marine Corps to cancel training exercises.

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This story has been corrected to show the funding is needed over the next three, not two, years.

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