President Trump has signed the $717 Billion defense spending bill that will fund the military for 2019. It includes pay raises for troops and substantial investments in Louisiana based military bases. Northeast Louisiana Congressman Ralph Abraham says it’s the biggest pay raise for the military in nearly a decade.

“A well-deserved raise, 2.6 percent, actually the second raise in the last couple years but this is the biggest in I think eight years.”

Abraham says those pay raises aren’t just big for the troops, they’re big for communities like Bossier City, Vernon Parish, and Belle Chasse that will see more spending in local businesses near the bases.

“Barksdale, Polk, and Belle Chasse air and naval station down there. You know we have a wonderful military presence in Monroe, they contribute millions of dollars to the economy.”

The bill funds construction of a 12.25 million dollar entry gate to Barksdale Airforce Base that will pave the way for an eventual 500 million dollar nuclear storage facility for the base’s bomber fleet, and 39 million in upgraded detection equipment for the Naval Station in Belle Chasse. Abraham says this makes it much more unlikely that those facilities would be closed in the event of base consolidations.

“I am confident that Barksdale and Fort Polk hopefully will be shielded from those cuts so again we want to do everything possible to keep that from ever happening on our turf.”