FORT HOOD — U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, held a press conference in front of Fort Hood’s Bernie Beck gate Thursday after touring the renovation progress of the 1st Cavalry Division headquarters building and several barracks.
“I came to see the renovation of the headquarters for the 1st Cavalry Division and they’re going very well,” Carter said. “It’s got great working space and something personally I liked is they’ve (architects) have taken what I’d call wasted space and made a spectacular use out of it.”
The building has been under renovation for the last two years by Temple-based MW Builders, at a cost of $49.8 million. An additional $10 million to $15 million will be spent on modern furniture and security upgrades. Carter said the budget and timeline were on course.
“I’m happy, I think the timelines are looking really good, everybody’s on time and on budget. You can’t ask for more than that,” Carter said.
Carter said the building will be ready by this summer for the division to partially move back, but security upgrades and furniture would come later.
“That’s three other contracts that don’t even start until the building is occupiable,” Carter said. “So, it will probably be occupiable this time next year.”
1st Cavalry public affairs officer Maj. Paul Oliver said the division building renovation was on track for a fall of 2018 completion, and a spring of 2019 move-in after the equipment, furnishings and accreditations completed.
“We are approximately 75 percent finished with the development,” Oliver said.
The division headquarters is currently operating out of temporary buildings. Carter said the division — which has deployed soldiers around the world — had no issues conducting operations in the temporary facilities.
“They can function anywhere if they can function in Afghanistan or wherever they are,” Carter said.
Carter also addressed how the government shutdown could affect future barracks and motor pool renovations on the Army post, and how a lack of an appropriations bill impacts soldiers and their families.
“The soldier is fighting a war. Back home, mom and the children are fighting the same everyday problems every one of us have, and you’re telling those people you are going to have a major delay on your paycheck or no check at all,” Carter said. “Tell them we’re going to get their money, we’re doing everything to get an appropriations bill for defense out before the next shutdown.”
Carter said in this year’s budget he wrote in additional barracks and motor pool repairs for Fort Hood, but if Congress does not pass an appropriations bill and passes a continuing resolution, those funds won’t be available. A continuing resolution only funds pre-existing appropriations at the same amounts of the previous fiscal year.
“We have barracks repairs and motor pool repairs in this budget, if we CR-(continuing resolution) it, none of that will be available,” Carter said. “CR says do this year what you did last year, so it wouldn’t work.”
Carter said he’s confident Congress will pass a defense appropriations bill prior to another government shutdown.
“I am confident that we aren’t going to CR it now, whether the powers that be that are fighting for the illegal immigrants are going to shut down the government again I don’t know. I didn’t understand their strategy in the first place and I still don’t understand it,” Carter said.