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Courtney-Led Restoration of Second Submarine Approved in Final House 2021 Appropriations Bill

July 31, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) and the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 7617, a legislative package that includes the defense appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2021. That measure includes funding Courtney has worked on a bipartisan basis to include that would restore a second, fully-funded Virginia-class submarine in FY 2021—the same funding level authorized in the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that the House passed last week.

Specifically, H.R. 7616 would provide about $6.8 billion to procure two Virginia-class attack submarines, about $2.5 billion more than the White House’s budget request, and matching the level in the House’s NDAA. The second Virginia-class submarine was missing from President Trump’s budget proposal to Congress in February, and was quickly identified by the U.S. Navy as its most urgent unfunded priority in FY 2021. As Chairman of the Seapower Subcommittee, which oversees Navy shipbuilding, Courtney has since worked to fully restore construction of the missing submarine in this year’s 2021 NDAA.

“We’ve been working to restore construction of the second Virginia-class submarine—the Navy’s number one most important unfunded priority next year—ever since the Administration submitted its weak budget request earlier this year,” said Congressman Courtney. “The budget request we received from the White House flew in the face of testimony that we’ve heard from Navy leaders, experts, and combatant commanders. It requested the fewest ships in over a decade, and it eliminated construction of the second Virginia-class submarine in 2021—a vessel that the Navy quickly listed as its most important unfunded priority in 2021. It was our Constitutional duty on the Seapower Subcommittee to fix this deeply flawed request and provide our Navy with the tools it needs to maintain superiority. Today we cleared the second major hurdle in the House—last week’s NDAA authorized the full restoration of the second sub, and today the House voted to back that authorization will full funding.

“I was proud to work on a bipartisan basis to restore the missing submarine to the 2021 NDAA, and to back it up with full funding today,” Courtney continued. “The House has clearly recognized on both sides of the aisle the great national security interest that has been placed by Navy leaders not just in the missing submarine, but also in continuing the two-a-year build rate. Today’s vote means that the House got the job done, but there’s still work left ahead to restore the Navy’s most important unfunded priority next year once and for all—the Senate needs to catch up to the House’s investments in our undersea capability and national security. The House has sent a strong message that we’re committed to fulfilling the national security priorities of our U.S. Navy, and we’ll bring that strong bipartisan consensus to us as we move forward.”

The House has shown strong support for restoration of the second VA-class submarine in 2021

In March, Courtney led a letter with 111 other Members of Congress urging the House Appropriations Committee to support restoration of the second submarine. The 112 members that joined this request represent 32 states, over 14,000 suppliers, and over $10 billion in manufacturing and support activity in the submarine supply chain.

Navy leadership has listed the restoration of a fully funded second FY21 Virginia-class submarine as its top unfunded budget priority this fiscal year. During hearings this year, Navy officials confirmed to Courtney that there is industrial base capacity to support the second submarine, that doing so reduces risk in the ramp up on Columbia construction, and that not restoring the submarine in 2021 will make it challenging to replace that submarine in a future year. Since 2018, Congress has allocated $1.1 billion for the second submarine. 

The President’s budget request included $4.2 billion for the Virginia class submarine, which included only one Virginia class submarine in 2021. While the House-passed authorization and appropriations bills support full restoration of a second 2021 submarine in line with the Navy’s top unfunded requirement, the Senate NDAA includes only $472 million above the request, for a total of $4.6 billion, for long lead materials for a future additional submarine.  The Senate has not yet proposed its version of a defense appropriations bill.