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Courtney Highlights Critical Priorities and Bipartisan Successes of the FY2020 NDAA as Congress Begins Debate on H.R. 2500

July 3, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Congress began general debate on amendments to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) (H.R. 2500), Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, spoke from the House Floor to highlight some of the bill’s most important provisions and key bipartisan successes. A final vote on the FY2020 NDAA is expected to take place this Friday, July 12.

Among the provisions highlighted this evening by Congressman Courtney were the FY2020 NDAA’s shipbuilding budget which provides for the construction of eleven battle force ships, including three Virginia-class submarines—a milestone achievement that Congressman Courtney and the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee have worked towards for several years to address the shortfall in the Navy’s undersea forces. Courtney also noted that the bill reverses the Trump Administration’s proposal to cancel the refueling of the USS Harry S. Truman; includes a long-term reauthorization of the Maritime Security Program, creates a new Tanker Security Program; and provides strong support for projection forces priorities like the KC-46 tanker, B-21 bomber, and more.

Courtney also noted that the full House Armed Services Committee worked to ensure that this year’s NDAA addressed issues that will improve the lives of servicemembers and their families. H.R. 2500 establishes a tenants’ bill of rights to protect the military and their families from unsafe or poorly managed military housing. The bill also includes Congressman Courtney’s amendment that reverses a proposed Department of Defense rule change that would block some of America’s most seasoned servicemembers from transferring their earned Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits to their loved ones.

Click below to watch Congressman Courtney’s full remarks this evening in support of the FY2020 NDAA. A transcript of his remarks as prepared for delivery can be found here, and is included below.

Congressman Courtney’s Remarks as the House Begins General Debate on the FY2020 NDAA
(As prepared for delivery)

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act. 

As the Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee, I can attest that this bill invests in critical priorities for our nation in a new era of great power competition. Within my subcommittee, we rigorously scrubbed the portions of the President’s budget request under our jurisdiction. The bill reflects months of vigilant oversight that identified savings and allows us to smartly provide for the ships, aircraft, and capabilities our nation needs.

This bill authorizes a $22 billion shipbuilding budget to construct 11 battle force ships, including three Virginia-class submarines; three Arleigh Burke-class destroyers; the first guided missile Frigate; one LPD Flight II amphibious ship through incremental funding authority; one T-AO 205 oiler; and two towing, salvage, and rescue ships. Specifically, our subcommittee, with the strong support of the full committee, has worked for the last several years to press the Navy and DoD leadership to increase Virginia-class submarine construction to address the steep shortfall in our undersea force. This year we included authorization for the Navy to increase production to three submarines per year to address this critical need. This bill will also statutorily reverse the administration’s baffling proposal to cancel the refueling of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, which would have squandered $538 million of sunk costs already paid by the taxpayers. By doing so, we will secure the carrier force’s ability to remain present and responsive across the world’s oceans.

Additionally, we have taken important steps to recapitalize overlooked sealift and maritime response capabilities. In this bill, we translated the urgent testimony from leaders at MARAD and TRANSCOM into real action by including a long-term reauthorization of the Maritime Security Program, creating a new Tanker Security Program to secure our military’s fuel supply, and establishing a new-build domestic sealift vessel program.

This bill also provides strong support for as well as oversight over our projection forces priorities, including the KC-46A refueling tanker, the B-21 long range bomber, and the B-52 re-engining program.

Outside of the jurisdiction of Seapower, the full committee worked hard to improve quality of life for our servicemembers and their families. The bill establishes a tenants’ bill of rights, to protect the military and their families from unsafe or poorly managed military housing, regardless of where they are stationed. We have included significant reforms to limit the use of PFAS on our military installations to reduce servicemembers’ exposure to these dangerous compounds. I am also pleased that my amendment, which reverses last year’s callous order by the DoD blocking longer-term servicemembers’ ability to transfer their Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits to eligible dependents, is included in this bill.

This mark would not have come together without the work of my friend and Ranking Member, Rob Wittman; our subcommittee staff, Phil MacNaughton, Kelly Goggin, Dave Sienicki, and Megan Handal; and all our subcommittee members for their contributions, particularly the new members, to this year’s bill.

Overall, I am confident that the bill we will vote on later this week, which had significant bipartisan input, will meet the pressing needs of the sea services and projection forces while providing a historic boost to the quality of life that our all-volunteer force deserves. I strongly encourage my colleagues to support this legislation when it comes to a vote on Friday.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I yield back my time.