Courtney Floor Remarks in support of the 2018 NDAA Conference Report
Washington, DC -- Congressman Joe Courtney, Ranking Member of the House Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, spoke today on the House floor in support of the final conference report on the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. Courtney voted for the agreement, which passed the House today in a 356-70 vote. The measure awaits further consideration in the Senate.
“As has been noted, this is the 57th year in a row that we have produced an NDAA,” Courtney said on the floor. “It's because we follow regular order. It's because we respect both sides of the aisle in terms of the contribution they make. We still have meat left on the bone to get the 2018 spending bill done and hopefully the example that Mr. Thornberry and Mr. Smith set in terms of allowing the process to breathe is the way we're going to get to a successful result just as we did with 2017.”
Courtney, a conferee on the bill, highlighted his priorities in the final bipartisan agreement, in a statement last week. Click here to read his statement and summary of the agreement.
Unofficial transcript of Courtney’s remarks:
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise in strong support of HR 2810 and want to begin by congratulating Chairman Thornberry and ranking member Smith for their really skillful, bipartisan guidance of this measure. The vote that took place last summer when the house passed first time through was the largest bipartisan vote since 2008 for an NDAA. That didn't happen by accident. It was because of their great work.
“I also want to thank my colleague, Mr. Wittman, on the Seapower committee. Again, it is a very bipartisan effort and the result I think really demonstrates that when you do it that way you get good results.
“I also want to congratulate the staff, Dave Sienicki, Phil MacNaughton, and also Lieutenant Commander Dominic Kramer, our Navy fellow who is here today. Their support and work were invaluable in terms of getting the Seapower portion of the bill to the really solid place it is today.
“Again, last year, 2016, the Navy came forward with a force structure assessment that said based on national security needs around the world, that our fleet size needs to grow. When the president's budget came over last May, unfortunately, there was only eight new ships in that budget. But our committee – again, showing its independence as a co-equal branch of government – produced a Seapower mark that boosted that build world rate to 15 and has us now on a pathway to achieve the goal the Navy identified last year.
“In particular, in terms of the undersea fleet, our combatant commanders - whether it’s in the Asia-Pacific or the European Command -- have been loudly warning Congress that we could -- we should not allow the decline in the fleet size to occur. This bill authorizes $5.9 billion for the Virginia class submarine program and provides multiyear procurement authority to enter into a contract for 13 Virginia class, allowing for a build rate to move from two a year to three fast attack submarines in 2020, 2022, and 2023.
“The National Sea Based Deterrence Fund, which our committee created in 2014, extends continuous production authorities which the Navy told us will save $383 million in the Columbia class program, which again is about smart procurement which Mr. Smith referred to at the beginning.
“Again, there are other provisions of the bill that I would just note there was no BRAC authorized in this bill. We also gave authority to the United States as part of the Ukraine assistance initiative to provide medical treatment to wounded Ukrainian soldiers, as well as training to Ukrainian healthcare specialists which our allies desperately need. Again, a very smart move by the committee.
“Mr. Speaker, as has been noted, this is the 57th year in a row that we have produced an NDAA. It's because we follow regular order. It's because we respect both sides of the aisle in terms of the contribution they make. We still have meat left on the bone to get the 2018 spending bill done and hopefully the example that Mr. Thornberry and Mr. Smith set in terms of allowing the process to breathe is the way we're going to get to a successful result just as we did with 2017.
“Again I want to congratulate the leadership of our committee and strongly urge all members on both sides of the aisle to support passage of this measure. I yield back.”
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