Courtney Effort Prevails: 2nd Submarine Restored as Trump Veto of NDAA Officially Overridden
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, made the following statement today after the U.S. Senate followed the U.S. House of Representatives in voting to override President Donald trump’s veto of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2021 (H.R. 6395). The NDAA was sent to the President’s desk for signature with overwhelming bipartisan support from Congress following passage of the NDAA Conference Report in the House by a margin of 335-78, and in the Senate by 84-13. As Chairman of the Seapower Subcommittee, Courtney was a core conferee to the bipartisan panel charged with negotiating the final bill, and worked to ensure it included the Seapower Subcommittee’s provision to fully restore construction of the second Virginia-class submarine in 2021.
On December 28th, The House voted to override President Trump’s veto of the bipartisan NDAA by a margin of 322-87. The Senate voted today to override the President’s veto by a margin of 81-13.
“We’re starting the New Year with a big win for our U.S. Navy and for eastern Connecticut—the President’s attempt to veto the bipartisan NDAA has officially been voted down, and construction of the crucial second Virginia-class submarine has once and for all been restored in 2021,” said Chairman Courtney. “I was proud last week to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in voting to overturn President Trump’s reckless veto of the NDAA, and to ensure that Congress for the 60th year passed this measure. This year’s defense bill was sent to the President’s desk for signature with overwhelming support from both the House and Senate. The 2021 NDAA is bipartisan, it supports our servicemembers, their families, and veterans, and it strengthens our national defense and cybersecurity.
“This final push to override the President’s veto means a pay raise for sailors and soldiers, hazard pay for those serving in areas of imminent danger, new support to victims of Agent Orange, and much more,” Courtney continued. “The House’s priorities are reflected front and center throughout this bipartisan NDAA, we came out in force to override President Trump’s feeble veto attempt, and the Senate followed our lead today. It’s great to kick the year off with this bipartisan win for our men and women in uniform, our veterans, and for all of our servicemembers and their families in eastern Connecticut.”
Key provisions that Courtney championed in the 2021 NDAA
Seapower and Projection Forces Priorities
As Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, Courtney has advocated for Navy, Air Force and maritime priorities important to Connecticut and the nation.
Virginia Class Submarine – The report authorizes $6.8 billion for the Virginia class submarine program, an increase of $2.6 billion over the budget request that Courtney secured to restore a second submarine in 2021. The Trump Administration requested just one submarine in 2021, breaking the steady two a year build rate that has been in place since 2011 and undermining efforts to address looming shortfalls in the submarine fleet.
Columbia-Class Ballistic Missile Submarines – The report authorizes $4 billion to initiate construction of the new Columbia-class submarine. Last month, the Navy announced the award of $10.3 billion in contracting options for the first two submarines in the program to Electric Boat. The report also includes Courtney’s provision to authorize incremental funding for these submarines within the National Sea Based Deterrence Fund, which will ensure the cost-effective and efficient construction of this important program.
Submarine Workforce and Development Training – Authorizes $20 million to support training programs to help support expansion of the skilled submarine workforce as the industrial base ramps up construction of new submarines. Courtney has strongly supported workforce development efforts in the region to support hiring at Electric Boat and the supply chain through programs like the Eastern Connecticut Manufacturing Pipeline.
Long Range Strike Bomber – The report fully supports the requested $2.8 billion for continued development of the B-21 Raider. Pratt & Whitney is a partner in the next-generation long range strike bomber program.
KC-46A Pegasus – The report authorizes $2.7 billion for 15 KC-46A tanker aircraft, which are powered by Pratt & Whitney engines. The agreement also mandates that the Secretary of the Air Force develop a complete, permanent solution to the KC-46 remote visual system (RVS) operation limitations, submitting the solution Congress no later than February 1, 2021.
C-130H Modernization – The measure continues Congressman Courtney’s efforts to accelerate the modernization of the C-130H cargo aircraft fleet, like those flown by the Connecticut Air National Guard. In addition to fully supporting the efforts to upgrade and modernize the avionics of the fleet, the bill authorizes $134 million for additional upgrades for engines, propellers and other systems on the aircraft beyond the President’s request.
P-8 Poseidon – The report authorizes $1.4 billion for 8 P-8 Poseidon aircraft, the Navy's newest maritime, patrol and reconnaissance aircraft. This will bring the Navy closer to the warfighting requirement of 138 aircraft and ensure the continued modernization of the Navy Reserves’ legacy P-3 fleet.
KMAX Unmanned Helicopter – The report authorizes $7 million to continue development of unmanned logistics capabilities with the CQ-24A helicopter manufactured by Bloomfield-based Kaman Aerospace.
Navy Shipbuilding -- Overall, the report authorizes more than $22 billion to procure 9 new battle force ships, two more than the budget request, in. The budget requested one of the lowest levels of new ships in nearly a decade and did not include the long range shipbuilding plan required by law to provide insight into future plans to grow the fleet. Courtney pressed Defense Secretary Mark Esper on his failure to abide by the law in a hearing earlier this year. The final agreement also includes language Courtney authored to restrict some funding for the Office of Secretary of Defense until the 30-year shipbuilding plan is delivered, and prohibits the retirement of any Navy vessel until the Secretary of Defense provides a Navy force structure assessment.
Recapitalization of our Domestic Sealift Capabilities – The report includes several Courtney-led investments in the recapitalization of our domestic sealift and maritime response capabilities. These includes authorizing the purchase of additional used vessels to replace aging sealift ships but rejecting a Defense Department request to eliminate the requirement to initiate a domestic new build ship. The bill also authorizes a new Tanker Security Program to address the alarming gap in at-sea logistics, authorizes the fourth National Security Multi-Mission Vessel and authorizes a $180 million increase in funding for the Maritime Security Program to address the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on our domestic shipping fleet.
Additional Courtney priorities
Rare Earth Minerals – the report includes an amendment Courtney authored that requires the Secretary of Defense to prioritize the acquisition of strategic and critical materials from U.S. and allied sources ensuring the continued protection of our national defense supply chains. These types of minerals and materials are used in everything from cell phones to the joint strike fighter and a secured supply chain of these materials is of utmost importance to national security.
Academic Partnerships for Undersea Research – The report authorizes $10 million to support partnerships with academic institutions that conduct research on undersea unmanned warfare and energy technology, such as the National Institute for Undersea Vehicle Technology, a collaborative program between the University of Connecticut and the University of Rhode Island. During debate on the bill in the House, Courtney and Rep. James Langevin (D-RI) passed an amendment to increase funding for this effort from $5 million to $10 million.
Joint Strike Fighter – The report provides $8.7 billion for the procurement of 93 F-35s and includes additional flexibility to procure additional aircraft within the authorized amount if production savings are found and if prime suppliers remain on-schedule.
UH-60 Blackhawks – The report authorizes nearly $1 billion for 60 UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, an increase over the budget request, built by Sikorsky.
CH-53K King Stallion – The report authorizes $800 million for procurement of 7 new Ch-53K Marine heavy-lift helicopters, built by Sikorsky.
Combat Search and Rescue Helicopter – The report supports the Administration’s request for $909 million for procurement of 16 HH-60W Air Force search and rescue helicopters built by Sikorsky.
VH-92A Presidential Helicopter – The report supports the Administration’s request for $589 million for procurement of 5 aircraft, which will be the next-generation presidential helicopter.
Ukraine – authorizes $250 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.
DOD Impact Aid – authorizes $50 million for the DOD supplemental impact aid program, which provides support to local school districts with high proportions of military children, including Groton public schools. This program is in addition to the primary Impact Aid program funded through the Department of Education, which does not fall within the jurisdiction of the House Armed Services Committee.
Coast Guard Reauthorization – the agreement includes the Coast Guard Reauthorization Act, bipartisan legislation to further strengthen our nation’s Coast Guard by enhancing navigation and maritime safety, authorizing new family leave and child care policies, and increasing gender and racial diversity in the Coast Guard Academy in New London and across the ranks.
Other Notable Provisions
Renaming Confederate Military Installations – The agreement includes an amendment that Courtney cosponsored that establishes an independent commission to make binding recommendations to the Secretary of Defense for the modification or removal of all names, symbols, displays, monuments, and paraphernalia that honor or commemorate the Confederate States of America or any person who served voluntarily with the Confederate States of America from all assets of the DoD.
Limitations on Funds to Remove Active Duty Troops from Germany – The agreement bars the Department from using any funds authorized by Congress to reduce the number of active duty troops stationed in Germany until DOD submits a report to Congress certifying that any reduction would not undermine the security of the U.S. or our allies in the region.
BRAC – The report does not authorize a base closing round.
Military Pay Raise – The report provides a 3.0% pay raise for the military, in line with a statutory requirement to keep pace with private sector wage growth.
Agent Orange Exposure Benefits – the report adds additional diseases to Section 1116(a)(2) of Title 38, USC including Parkinsonism, bladder cancer, and hypothyroidism to the list of diseases associated with exposure to certain herbicide agents. The report would also mandate that the Department of Veterans Affairs provide benefits to veterans who were exposed to Agent Orange and later diagnosed with these afflictions.
Climate Change Resiliency – The agreement requires a report updating Congress on the implementation of provisions from the FY2020 NDAA related to installation master planning, updates to installation building codes, sea-level rise modeling, and climate assessment tools. The final agreement would also require DoD to submit a report on its greenhouse gas emission for the last 10 years.
Pacific Deterrence Initiative – the report authorizes a new Pacific Deterrence Initiative to reassure allies and partners of U.S. commitment to the region and to enhance congressional oversight of military activities throughout the area of responsibility.
Defense Community Infrastructure Program – Authorizes $50 million for the program, allowing DOD to help states and local governments fund off-base infrastructure projects that support operations and the base community. Infrastructure improvements could include transportation projects, schools, first responder facilities, and utility projects.