Senator Heitkamp met with Minot’s Taskforce 21 to discuss the importance of MAFB’s missions and other issues facing the base. Get some recap coverage and commentary from KX News here. Read the full news release from Senator Heitkamp’s office below.
— Official News Release, Senator Heitkamp —
During a meeting today with Minot’s Task Force 21, U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp discussed her efforts to support the missions and service members at Minot Air Force Base, as well as her push for pay increases for the base’s civilian employees to help ease the burden of rising housing costs in the area.
Heitkamp, a member of the Senate Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Coalition, expressed her strong commitment to making sure Minot’s ICBM and B-52 bomber forces have the resources to continue to serve as effective strategic deterrents and keep our nation safe. She also discussed two recent pay raises for civilian employees at Minot Air Force Base, including a ten percent retention bonus earlier this month for all civilian personnel at the base and a pay rate increase of 33 to 37 percent for more than 150 civilian employees – both a result of Heitkamp’s efforts – after she brought Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Katherine Archuleta to Minot Air Force Base last September.
“Building productive relationships between our military bases and surrounding communities is essential for our national security, and Task Force 21 has played an important role in achieving this for Minot,” said Heitkamp. “During our discussion today, we spoke about the critical mission of ICBM and B-52 bomber forces at Minot Air Force Base as well as the need to provide servicemembers, civilian employees, and their families with the support they need. Retaining civilian personnel and being able to recruit new individuals to positions at the base is important to its future success and national security mission, and I’ll continue to work closely with OPM to push for needed pay increases – like the two we’ve recently seen – for the remaining civilian employees to build a promising future for the entire Minot community.”
Last November, Heitkamp joined U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James at Minot Air Force Base, where Hagel committed to investing billions of dollars in the nation’s nuclear forces.
Heitkamp has been steadfast in her defense of ICBMs, and as a co-founder of the bipartisan Senate Defense Communities Caucus, she has worked to find innovative solutions to improve conditions and services for servicemembers, their families, and their communities. Heitkamp has also been vocal in her opposition to unwarranted reductions in our nuclear forces. Last year, she and the bipartisan Senate ICBM coalition, successfully convinced the Department of Defense (DOD) to back off a plan to potentially reduce the number of ICBM silos. And in December, Heitkamp voted for the 2015 federal appropriations bill which included funding to advance DOD’s plan to improve its nuclear force – including ICBM and B-52 forces at Minot Air Force Base.
Heitkamp, a member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which oversees OPM, has led the push to make sure civilian federal workers at Minot Air Force Base and federal employees throughout North Dakota are treated fairly, and that these essential jobs are filled. Following the meeting with workers at Minot Air Force Base in September, Heitkamp brought Archuleta to speak with officials in New Town and across western North Dakota to discuss similar issues faced by federal agencies facing similar issues filling jobs at federal oil and gas permitting offices, as well as positions in natural resources and engineering. Less than three months later, Heitkamp announced significant pay rate increases for more than 150 civilian employees at Minot Air Force Base to help offset the high cost of living and to help the base retain and recruit workers.