Funds to accelerate the disposal of the chemical weapons stored at Kentucky's Blue Grass Army Depot were included in the defense spending bill that the U.S. House of Representatives passed on Thursday.
The Department of Defense Appropriations Act, H.R. 3326, was approved, 400 for and 30 against. The measure matched the Pentagon's request for increased funds in 2010 for the destruction projects in Madison County and at Colorado's Pueblo Depot Activity. The bill now goes to the Senate for a vote.
Rep. Ben Chandler of Versailles led the effort in the House to stabilize the funding for the disposal program. All six of Kentucky's congressmen voted for the bill, which makes defense appropriations through the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2010.
Last month, the Kentucky Citizens Advisory Board was told that increased funding over the long haul would cut six years off the completion date, from 2027 to 2021 and possibly more depending on the steadiness of funding, construction rates and other considerations.
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A recent Pentagon report to Congress showed the accelerated completion date in Colorado shortened from 2020 to 2017.
Citizens Advisory Board co-chair Craig Williams said, "With Representative Chandler's diligence and leadership, we are closer to getting the level of support we need here in Kentucky and in Colorado to move forward aggressively."
Chandler said he was "pleased that the House fulfilled the president's request and was able to give the Blue Grass Army Depot the resources it needs to destroy these weapons in a safe, timely way for our Central Kentucky communities."