Republican lawmakers have put forward an amendment to the bipartisan infrastructure bill that includes $2.5 billion in funding for the installation of 5G wireless technology at Department of Defense facilities.
Senate Appropriations committee ranking member Richard Shelby, R-Ala., proposed the amendment, which is focused broadly on boosting defense funding. It is supported also by fellow Republican Sens. Jim Inhofe, Okla., Roger Wicker, Miss., Mike Rounds, S.D., and Thom Tillis, N.C.
The amendment was not adopted prior to a vote by Senate lawmakers Sunday evening to end debate over the infrastructure bill. The bill text theoretically could still be altered, however, this is unlikely because it would require cooperation from all 100 senators.
Rolling out secure 5G technology across military installations is a core element of the Department of Defense’s plan to create a joined-up battlefield, in which soldiers and military vehicles have access to real-time data.
The revision would also allocate $3.8 billion for construction at the Department of Energy’s national labs. This includes projects at the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Savannah River nuclear facility, and additional projects.
If enacted, it would also add $4 billion across military services and the Pentagon for infrastructure maintenance projects, and set aside another $2 billion for high priority military construction projects.
Lawmakers are expected to take a final vote on the passage of the $1 trillion infrastructure bill this weekend, after the Senate moved through a series of amendments to the legislation on Wednesday.
Negotiators are working on a final iteration of the bill, and Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has called for the chamber to move quickly, as it passes through the final stages of the legislative process.
Speaking at an industry association event last year, the Air Force’s chief of staff, Gen. Charles Q. Brown said the services would “most definitely” need to rework its networks in order to facilitate the rollout of 5G.
Following a Senate cloture vote on Sunday evening, the infrastructure bill is expected to clear the upper chamber either late Monday or early Tuesday.