WASHINGTON – Maybe their prayers were answered.
A military construction bill now making its way through the Senate includes $10.4 million to help build a new chapel at the McChord air base part of Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Chapel services and activities are currently conducted in three deteriorating, World War II-era buildings that are so close to the McChord flight line that parishioners face 65-decibel noise levels and airfield odors.
"Our service members deserve better than dilapidated, outdated facilities," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who secured the funding. Murray is a member of the Senate military construction appropriations subcommittee.
The subcommittee, on Wednesday, approved a military construction funding bill that will provide nearly $315 million for bases in Washington state.
Roughly two-thirds of the money is directed to Joint Base Lewis-McChord. That includes $180.6 million for Army facilities, mostly so the base can handle additional Stryker units. The Air Force portion of the base would receive the money for a new chapel and the Yakima firing range would receive $17.5 million.
In addition, $25 million was included for an Army National Guard support-maintenance shop in Tacoma.
The House military construction subcommittee also approved its version of the funding bill Wednesday, and it includes nearly $310 million for the state's bases. The big ticket items include $87 million for a new Army barracks and barracks complex, $63 million for an Army logistic support complex and $8.4 million for a preventive medical facility at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Also included is $4.7 million for a Special Operations forces working dog facility that was requested by Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash.
The funding, in both bills, will be for the fiscal year which starts Oct. 1.
The military construction bill is one of the first appropriations bill to start moving through Congress.
The subcommittees' actions were just the first step as the bills still have to be approved by the full appropriations committee's in both chambers, receive approval from the full Senate and House and then a conference committee will have to sort out the differences before final passage.