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Courtney On Seapower And Defense Priorities In The Omnibus Spending Bill

May 3, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-2), ranking member of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, applauded a number of important defense priorities funded under the Consolidated Appropriations Act that will fund the federal government through the end of FY2017.

“While this should have been completed last year, I am pleased that members from both sides of the aisle finally came together to pass a fair and bipartisan spending bill to close out the fiscal year,” said Courtney. “Our military leaders and industry have been clamoring for the budget certainty they need to move forward on a wide range of programs and priorities. This could have been finalized months ago, and it is my hope the bipartisan framework passed today can serve as a model for avoiding similar delays on the 2018 budget. As ranking member of the Seapower subcommittee, I am pleased that this measure reflects many of the priorities I have worked on including robust investment in our undersea forces. I am proud to have fought for key investments in programs important to Connecticut that will contribute to our state’s growing manufacturing resurgence and our nation’s security.”

“Like the bipartisan defense authorization bill we pass last year, this agreement makes a number of key investments that will serve as a foundation for the work ahead in rebuilding and growing our sea services,” Courtney added. “As we prepare to consider the 2018 defense funding and authorization bills, we need to be mindful of the full range of investments necessary to support an expanding Navy. We cannot simply focus on new ships, rather, we need a focused and diligent approach that includes maintenance and modernization, upgraded capabilities, and ensures that our industrial base has the demand signal they need and can plan around. This measure is a solid step that we can build upon in the debates ahead.”

Notable Seapower and Connecticut Priorities Included in the Omnibus:

Shipbuilding and Submarines

Virginia-class submarines – Fully funds two Virginia-class submarines for 2017, and provides advanced procurement for sustaining the two a year build rate in 2018 and 2019. That includes $85 million more than the budget request, reflecting funding Courtney secured in the Defense Authorization bill to ensure that the industrial base can properly plan for and support the incorporation of the Virginia Payload Module in Block V submarines.

Columbia-class submarines – fully supports the $1.9 billion requested for the development and design of the Columbia-class submarine program, ensuring that we continue to make steady progress on this foundational component of our nation’s security and a significant driver of economic recovery in eastern Connecticut.  Courtney also recently led the effort to ensure that this program would not go unfunded, securing the full year’s funding in the Continuing Resolution that Congress passed in December.

  • National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund (NSBDF) – The agreement included language approving continuous production of certain components, similar to the 2017 NDAA. Navy estimates have found that continuous production would save 25 percent of the cost of procuring missile tubes alone by buying them in a cost efficient and level loaded approach. Courtney is a lead author and advocate of the NSBDF to ensure that the Navy can produce the new fleet while also meeting other critical shipbuilding priorities

Shipbuilding – funds 13 ships, including additional funds for a third Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), fully funding a third DDG-51 authorized in 2016, an LPD-17 and initial funding for recapitalizing the Coast Guard’s icebreaker cooperatively with the Navy.

National Security Mulit-Mission Vessel (NMSV) - Provides $6 million for the design of a National Security Multi-Mission Vessel to replace the aging fleet of training ships for the nation’s State Maritime Academies. Courtney has prioritized replacement of these training assets in order to ensure that our nation continues to meet future maritime workforce needs.

Connecticut National Guard

The “Flying Yankees” of the 103rd Airlift Wing of the Connecticut Air National Guard are in the final stages of completing transition to their new C-130H flying mission. That mission, which resulted from a plan that Congressman Courtney helped secure in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, assigns eight C-130H aircraft to Connecticut and ends years of uncertainty after the loss of its last flying mission, the A-10, in the 2005 base closing process.

  • C-130H Modernization – the omnibus continues Congressman Courtney’s efforts to accelerate the modernization of the C-130H cargo aircraft fleet. In the 2016 NDAA, Congressman Courtney worked to provide the Air Force with the authority to move forward on its two-phase Avionics Modernization Plan (AMP) –increment one, to provide near term avionics upgrades needed to meet the looming domestic and international airspace restrictions to begin in 2020, and increment two focused on longer term upgrades to other systems to ensure the longevity of the aircraft well in to the future. The agreement fully supports this program and invests in additional propulsion and propeller upgrades to further enhance the capabilities of the fleet by adding $97.5 million to the President’s request.

Aircraft & Helicopter Development and Procurement

  • F-35 Joint Strike Fighter –funds 74 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, an increase of 11 over the President’s Budget request as it continues to prepare for entry into full rate production.
  • B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber – provides $1.338 billion for the continued development of the B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber, which will be powered by Pratt & Whitney engines.
  • Blackhawks – funds 62 UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, twenty six more than the President’s request.
  • Combat Rescue Helicopter – provides $273 million for continued deployment of the new HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter, being built by Sikorsky, as well as five demonstration aircraft.  
  • CH-53K – funds continued development of the new Marine heavy lift helicopter, as well as the procurement of the first two Low-Rate Initial Production (LRIP) aircraft.
  • VH-92A Presidential Helicopter – funds continued engineering and system integration efforts on the new presidential helicopter, as well as the acquisition of the remaining two System Demonstration Test Article (SDTA) aircraft.
  • KC-46A Tanker – continues the third year of Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) for new KC-46A tankers by procuring 15 aircraft in 2017. The conference report also supports the ongoing developmental and operational testing of the new tanker.
  • Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP) – the measure continues investment in the ITEP, which will develop new more efficient engines for the existing Army helicopter fleet. Sikorsky is participating in the development effort.

Other Notable Provisions

Denies New BRAC round -- the agreement denies the administration’s request to authorize a new base closing round in 2019. This marks the fifth year that Congress has rejected a new BRAC request.

Military Pay Raise – authorizes a military pay raise of 2.1%, an increase of half a percent above the budget request.