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Courtney Statement on Passage of Bicameral Defense Authorization Bill

December 4, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON—Today Congressman Joe Courtney released the following statement after voting in favor of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill, negotiated between the House and Senate after passage of the House version of the NDAA in May, will now go to the Senate floor for approval. Courtney, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and Vice Ranking Member of the Seapower Subcommittee, advocated for several specific provisions contained in the final bill, including a provision that would fund the Ohio Class Submarine Replacement through a separate account under the Department of Defense.

“Despite a challenging fiscal climate, this bill maintains strong investments in our undersea fleet, including continued two-a-year production of Virginia Class submarines, and full funding for the Ohio Replacement Program and the Virginia Payload Module,” Courtney said. “The unrivaled work of the men and women of Electric Boat has inspired confidence in these programs for the future. This bill underscores our commitment to maintaining the best submarine fleet in the world, and strengthens our economy in eastern Connecticut.”

Highlights of the bill include:

Connecticut Programs

Submarine Procurement and Development

  • Virginia Class Submarine. The agreement authorizes $5.9 billion for the Virginia class submarine program, including $3.6 billion for two submarines in 2015 and $2.3 billion in advanced procurement for additional submarines. The agreement fully supports the Block IV multi-year submarine contract completed earlier this year, which calls for 10 submarines to be built over the next five years at a two-a-year rate. 
  • Ohio Class Replacement. Fully authorizes budget request of $1.3 billion to continue research and development of the Ohio class ballistic missile submarine replacement. In addition, the agreement includes a provision, Sec. 1022, authored by Congressman Courtney to create a “National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund” to manage the obligation and expenditures for the construction of nuclear-powered strategic ballistic missile submarines outside of the regular shipbuilding account. The agreement also allows for a transfer of up to $3.5 billion into the fund from unobligated funding.
  • Virginia Payload Module. Fully authorizes the budget request of $133 million for the continued development of the Virginia Payload Module, which would integrate strike payload capacity for Tomahawk Land Attack and follow on missiles in Block V submarines (FY19-23). VPM is meant to fill a nearly 60% gap in undersea strike capability caused by the eventual retirement of the four SSGN submarines.

 Aircraft Procurement and Development

  • F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The agreement authorizes $6.7 billion for procurement of 34 F-35 aircraft and $1.6 billion for research and development of the F-35, equal to the budget request, including $3.6 billion for 26 F-35As for the Air Force, $1.2 billion for six F-35Bs for the Marine Corps and $611 million for two Navy F-35As.
  • KC-46 Tanker Replacement. The agreement authorizes $1.6 billion for procurement of seven aircraft and $777 million for research and development, equal to the budget request.
  • C-130 Upgrades. In order to address the growing concern about the aging of the C-130H fleet, found primarily in the Air National Guard, the agreement authorizes $124 million, C-130H propulsion system propeller and engine control upgrades. The agreement also includes a provision allowing the Air Force to move ahead with critical near-term upgrades needs for the aircraft to operate under new airspace requirements. The 103rd Flying Wing of the Connecticut National Guard is home to eight C-130H aircraft.

Helicopter procurement and development

  • $1.3 billion for 85 Black Hawks for the Army and Guard, $103 million more than the budget request to fund six additional UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters for the Army National Guard.
  • $210 million for eight Navy MH-60S Knighthawk helicopters, equal to the budget request.
  • $879.9 million for 29 Navy MH-60R Seahawk helicopters, as well as $107 million in advanced procurement funding.
  • $573 million to develop the MH-53K Super Stallion transport, equal to the budget request. 
  • $388 million to continue research and development of the Marine One replacement. Sikorsky was selected to produce the new presidential helicopter earlier this year.

Military Construction

  • $16.3 million for a new C–130 Fuel Cell and Corrosion Control Center at the Bradley Air National guard base to support their new flying mission.

Notable Provisions

  • Denies BRAC Request.  The agreement specifically rejects the request for a new BRAC round in 2017.
  • Military Pay Raise. Authorizes a 1% across the board military pay raise.
  • Commissary Reductions. The agreement rejects a proposal in the 2015 budget to reduce support for the military commissary system.
  • Mental health screening. Requires the Secretary of Defense to provide a person-to-person mental health assessment for active duty and selected reserve members each year and, through 2018, a person-to-person mental health screening once during each 180-day period in which a member is deployed.