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Courtney on Seapower and Defense Priorities in the Omnibus Spending Bill

March 22, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-2), ranking member of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, applauded many important defense priorities funded under the Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY 2018.

“For months, we have been hearing from military leaders about the critical need for budget certainty to move forward on a wide range of programs and priorities. Now, with this bill, Congress has finally provided them with that certainty,” said Courtney. “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.

“Most importantly, the package that passed the House today supports my ongoing efforts to boost submarine production to meet the needs of our military commanders. Over the last few weeks, military leaders in the Pacific and the North Atlantic have testified about the urgent need for additional submarines in the fleet. And, just this week, Navy officials testified to me that that would look at ways to achieve a three-submarine build rate in the next five-year construction contract. By mirroring the 2018 NDAA I helped craft with strong submarine provisions and retaining my amendment to allow the Navy to seek up to 13 submarines in the next contract, this agreement sends the strongest possible signal that Congress is serious about boosting the submarine production rate.”

Notable Seapower and Connecticut Priorities Included in the Omnibus:

Virginia Class Submarines – includes $5.5 billion for Virginia class submarine procurement. Of the total, $3.3 billion supports two submarines in 2018, in line with the current block IV multi-year contract.  The remaining $2.1 billion supports advanced work on submarines planned in 2019 and beyond.

Increasing Attack Submarine Build Rate --The bill allows the Navy to seek “up to 13” Virginia class submarines in the next multiyear block contract, matching the 2018 NDAA language that Courtney crafted in the Seapower subcommittee. The language in the spending bill was inserted in the House version via a bipartisan amendment Courtney offered in July 2017. That amendment passed the House unanimously in an “en bloc” package of amendments. The bill also includes an additional $225 million for submarine industrial base expansion to ensure that suppliers are able to meet the demands of higher levels of submarine construction. Last month, Courtney wrote to House Appropriators urging strong support for submarine programs in the final 2018 spending package.

Columbia-class Submarines – fully supports the development and design of the Ohio Replacement submarine, 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.

Shipbuilding and Submarines – The bill includes funding to procure 14 Navy ships--five higher than the President’s budget request. The bill includes funding for one carrier replacement, two DDG-51 guided missile destroyers, two Virginia-class submarines, three Littoral Combat Ships; one Expeditionary Sea Base; one Expeditionary Fast Transport; one amphibious ship replacement; one fleet oiler; one towing, salvage, and rescue ship; and one oceanographic survey ship.

National Security Multi-Mission Vessel (NMSV) – The bill includes $300 million for the design and construction of a new National Security Multi-Mission Vessel (NSMV) to replace state maritime academy training ships. Courtney has championed the NSMV program as a way to improve the training of new US merchant mariners while providing significant capabilities for contingency operations like natural disasters -- all on a platform built in US shipyards.

Connecticut National Guard - $7 million in military construction funds for construction of a new front gate and entry control point at the Bradley Air National Guard base, matching the 2018 NDAA. This project continues the unit’s transition to the new C-130H mission that Courtney helped secure in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.  In addition, the package includes an additional $144 million to upgrade avionics, propellers and engines for the C-130H fleet, of which Connecticut flies eight aircraft.

Aircraft & Helicopter Development and Procurement - The bill includes strong funding for aircraft and helicopter programs with a significant presence in the 2nd District and across Connecticut.

Joint Strike Fighter – funds 90 F-35 aircraft, 20 more than the budget request.  

Long Range Strike Bomber – supports the continued development of the B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber, which will be powered by Pratt & Whitney engines.

Blackhawks – authorizes 56 UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, 8 more than the budget request.

CH-53K – supports continued development of the new Marine heavy lift helicopter, as well as the procurement of 6 aircraft, 2 higher than the budget request.

Combat Search and Rescue Helicopter - Fully funds the budget request for continued development of the HH-60W Air Force search and rescue helicopter.

KC-46A Tanker – Funds 18 KC-46A tanker aircraft, 3 more than the budget requests

Other Notable Provisions-

Academic-industry partnerships for undersea dominance -- the agreement includes $10 million in funding for the Navy to expand its partnerships with the academic sector. This level matches an amendment Courtney successfully championed in the 2018 NDAA. Last year, the University of Connecticut and University of Rhode Island announced the creation of the National Institute for Undersea Vehicle Technology, a partnership to help expand innovative and groundbreaking research to help the Navy retain its edge in undersea dominance, which could be supported through this provision.

DOD Impact Aid – includes $35 million for the DOD supplemental Impact Aid program, which targets additional support to communities like Groton with high proportions of military children in their schools. Courtney led a bipartisan letter in support of strong funding for this program.  An additional $1.2 billion in Impact Aid is included in the bill for the Department of Education, funded elsewhere in the package.

Military Pay Raise – provides a 2.4% pay raise for the military, 0.3% more than the Trump administration had proposed, and in line with inflation projections.

BRAC – Blocks funding for a new base closing round.