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Courtney Appointed To Panel Tasked With Negotiating Final FY2020 Defense Authorization

September 17, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, was today appointed to the conference committee for the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes expenditures for the Department of Defense for the upcoming fiscal year 2020. The bill contains billions of dollars of investments and key defense priorities for eastern Connecticut and the state. 

“In my first year as Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, we worked hard to produce a bipartisan bill that carried forward some of the most important priorities for our armed forces and our servicemembers, and for eastern Connecticut,” said Congressman Courtney. “I’m proud of what we accomplished in the House-passed NDAA, and as we move into conference to reconcile differences between our bill and the Senate’s version, I’ll keep working to find bipartisan support for these priorities to ensure that our region is well represented in the final product.” 

The House-passed version of the NDAA, H.R. 2500, includes Rep. Courtney’s bipartisan amendment to protect benefits for servicemembers and their families by preventing the Secretary of Defense from implementing a proposed rule change to restrict the ability of servicemembers with more than sixteen years of service from transferring their Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits to eligible dependents.  

H.R. 2500 includes other key provisions championed by Rep. Courtney, including full authorization for the funding of two Virginia-class submarines in 2020 and advanced procurement for additional submarines in 2021 and 2022, as well as further support for the development and design of the next-generation Columbia-class submarines. Last week, Congressman Courtney helped break ground on Electric Boat’s new submarine production facility in Groton, which will be constructed specifically to manufacture the upcoming Columbia-class. 

For more information on the important priorities contained in the House-passed H.R. 2500, click here

Key provisions that Courtney championed in the 2020 NDAA include:   

Virginia Class Submarines – The bill fully authorizes funding for two Virginia class submarines in 2020 and advanced procurement for additional submarines in 2021 and 2022 in support of a sustained two a year build rate. In addition, the measure authorizes resources to initiate construction of a third submarine planned for FY2023 – fulfilling Courtney’s bipartisan efforts over the last two years to expand production above the current two-a-year rate to mitigate looming shortfalls in the fleet. In addition to his work in the HASC-approved NDAA, Courtney has worked with leaders on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and the Senate Armed Services Committee to secure funding for the third submarine as well.    

Columbia-Class Ballistic Missile Submarines – The bill fully authorizes the $1.6 billion requested for the development and design of the next-generation ballistic missile submarine. The bill also includes an additional $125 million Courtney secured for development of the submarine supplier base to shore up this critical supplier base in preparation for the growth in submarine construction work in the coming decade.   

Submarine Maintenance – The bill fully funds a $653 million unfunded request submitted by the Navy to complete much-needed depot-level maintenance on three Los Angeles-class submarines to ensure the readiness of our current submarine force. Two of these maintenance availabilities will be completed in private shipyards, an option Courtney has long pressed the Navy to take advantage of as our public shipyards are above capacity and private shipyards are ramping up for construction of the first Columbia-class submarine. 

Navy Shipbuilding -- Overall, the committee’s bill authorizes more than $22 billion to procure 11 battle force ships. This includes the procurement of three Virginia-class submarines, three DDG 51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, one Guided Missile Frigate, one LPD Flight II amphibious ship using incremental funding authority, one T-AO 205 oiler, and two T-ATS towing, salvage, and rescue ships. In addition, the bill restores funding for the refueling of the USS Harry S. Truman to allow the carrier to continue to contribute to our national defense over its full, 50-year service life.  

Recapitalization of our Domestic Sealift Capabilities – The bill includes several Courtney-led investments in the recapitalization of our domestic sealift and maritime response capabilities, responding to increasingly urgent testimony from leaders at the Maritime Administration and Transportation Command. The bill includes a long-term reauthorization of the Maritime Security Program, the creation of a new Tanker Security Program to help secure our military’s fuel supply, and establishment of a new-build domestic sealift vessel program based on an existing design and well-established shipbuilding practice. This bill also rejects the Administration’s efforts to cut funding for the National Security Multi-mission Vessel (NSMV), a program Courtney helped to initiate in 2016 that is critical to training the pipeline of mariners needed to support our sealift capabilities.   

Improving Safety in the Maritime Sector – The bill includes a provision championed by Courtney to permanently establish the Maritime Occupational Safety and Health Advisory Committee (MACOSH). This committee makes recommendations to the Secretary of Labor on matters related to the health and safety of workers in the maritime sector, including shipbuilding, ship repair, and longshoring. The provision would mean that this important committee does not need to be reestablished every two years as previously structured.    

Pier Construction at New London Submarine Base — The bill authorizes $72.3 million to replace the aging Pier 32 at Naval Submarine Base New London. The new pier will be longer and wider that than the existing pier, allowing adequate space to fully support modern Virginia-class submarines and allow vehicle traffic to traverse the pier more safely.   

Sexual Assault at Military Service Academies – The bill includes a requirement for the military service academies to implement a “safe to report” policy which allow sexual assault victims to report their assaults without fear of being punished for minor collateral misconduct they may have committed at the time. Courtney brought an amendment during committee markup to ensure that this provision applies to the US Coast Guard Academy in New London as well.   

Oversight of Sexual Assault Prosecutions at the Coast Guard Academy – The bill includes Congressman Courtney’s amendment that would add the Coast Guard Academy to the list of military service academies covered by Section 538, which establishes a “chief prosecutor” pilot program to oversee sexual assault prosecutions at the military service academies.  

Honoring the Cadet Nurse Corps – Congressman Courtney co-sponsored an amendment offered by Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) that designates members of the Cadet Nurse Corps who served during and in the years after 1943-1948 as honorably-serving veterans, thus entitling them to VA burial benefits including eligibility to be buried at national cemeteries, on par with other veterans.