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Courtney Statement on Passage of Bipartisan Defense Authorization Bill

September 2, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Joe Courtney, Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, voted early this morning to pass the FY 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) out of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC). Among other things, the final bill includes historic support for shipbuilding and submarine construction and procurement, a pay raise for all American military personnel, and would create a biparisan commission to conduct a full review of the war in Afghanistan. The FY 2022 passed out of committee on a bipartisan vote of 57-2.

“The NDAA we completed this morning after a seventeen-hour-long markup reflects months of careful examination of national security challenges, and builds on the budget request to set a bipartisan framework for meeting the short and long term needs of our U.S. Navy, America’s shipbuilding infrastructure, and the men and women who wear our nation’s uniform,” said Chairman Courtney. “As Chairman of the Seapower Subcommittee, I’m proud of the work we did this year to focus on our shipbuilding and naval force structure needs and produce a credible plan for growing our fleet. At a time when our national security strategy is pivoting towards competition and challenges in the maritime domain, this bill lays an important marker for the work ahead in crafting a stable and executable path towards the larger and more capable fleet we need.”  

Chairman Courtney continued: “This year’s NDAA was bipartisan, and includes a plan to put the Department of Defense on a strict schedule to brief our committee on several updates regarding Afghanistan, including the evacuation of any remaining American citizens and Afghan allies, counterterrorism operations, and the compliance of the Taliban with commitments they’ve made in regards to human rights—particularly for women and girls. This year’s bipartisan NDAA would also create an independent commission to conduct a full review of the war in Afghanistan, from 1996 to the present. The Armed Services Committee came together from both sides of the aisle to support this commission—which would take a full account for everything from the decision-making behind the withdrawal strategy, to the equipment abandoned by Afghan security forces—and we outlined that it needs to be comprised of outside experts and veterans who served in Afghanistan. I was glad to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in coming together to support a professional, dispassionate review of the war at all levels, both in Washington and among the Afghan government and security forces.” 

The FY 2022 NDAA is expected to be considered for a vote in the House of Representatives later this month.

Eastern Connecticut Priorities included in the 2022 NDAA

Submarines and Undersea Capabilities - The HASC-passed NDAA provides a total of $13.4 billion for submarine procurement, repair, research & development priorities including:

  • Virginia-class Submarine – supports the sustained two-per-year build rate of new Virginia-class submarines in 2022 and beyond, continuing the Block V multi-year contract and reflecting Courtney’s bipartisan work to preserve the two a year build rate. The bill also authorizes $567 million to allow the Navy to support shipyard facility and industrial base improvements to enable future increases in Virginia class submarine production from two to three by 2025, a long-time priority of Chairman Courtney’s.
  • Columbia-class Submarine – fully supports the second year of funding for the first Columbia class submarine and supports advanced procurement to support the second, in line with the contract announced in June 2020. The bill includes a Courtney-authored provision providing $20 million to continue efforts to improve the nationwide submarine supplier base.  Also included in the bill is a provision Courtney authored to expand the National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund (NSBDF) to extend continuing production authority to additional components of the new submarine, increasing production efficiency and reducing costs. Recent data from the Navy shows through the use of this authority has saved $1.4 billion in the Columbia program to the tune of over $100 million per boat. 
  • Research and Development – the bill includes $949 million in research and development of future submarine capabilities, including a $150 million increase for developing capabilities for the next block of submarines, and about $30 million to develop the SSN(X), the planned future follow-on to the Virginia-class. These efforts are vital to sustaining the health of the design and engineering workforce at Electric Boat.  
  • USS Hartford repair availability – the bill fully authorizes the budget request of $710 million to support the remainder of the maintenance availability for the USS Hartford in 2022. In June, the Navy awarded the “smart start” contract to Groton’s Electric Boat (EB) for initial maintenance work on the boat, one of the largest submarine maintenance availabilities ever executed by the yard. Click here to learn more.

The bill also includes other Courtney-led provisions to augment undersea priorities such as:

  • Academic Partnerships for Undersea Research – The bills authorizes $25 million to support partnerships with academic institutions conducting research on undersea capabilities, such as the National Institute for Undersea Vehicle Technology, a collaborative program between the University of Connecticut and the University of Rhode Island.  
  • Submarine Workforce Development – Authorizes $20 million to support training programs to help support expansion of the skilled submarine workforce as the industrial base ramps up construction of new submarines. Courtney has strongly supported workforce development efforts in the region to support hiring at Electric Boat and the supply chain through programs like the Eastern Connecticut Manufacturing Pipeline. | 
  • Remote Acoustic Sensors – During debate on the bill, Courtney secured an amendment to add re-allocate $20 million in the bill towards supporting operational testing of unmanned remote acoustic sensor systems, which will help the Navy evaluate existing off-the-shelf platforms like those developed by Groton’s ThayerMahan.

Defense Impact Aid – Authorizes $50 million for the DOD supplemental impact aid program, which provides support to local school districts with high proportions of military children, including Groton public schools. This program is in addition to the primary Impact Aid program funded through the Department of Education, which does not fall within the jurisdiction of the House Armed Services Committee.

Putnam National Guard Readiness Center – Authorizes a new Connecticut National Guard Readiness Center in Putnam. The new Putnam Readiness Center would primarily support the CT Guard’s 643rd Military Police Company and its training, administrative, and logistical requirements. Currently, unit is stationed at an armory in Westbrook, CT, which was built in 1955 and does not meet current anti-terrorism and force protections standards. Click here to read more.  

Seapower and Projection Forces

Shipbuilding – Following the subcommittee’s bipartisan work to examine shipbuilding industrial capacity and Navy force structure requirements, the bill authorizes 13 battle force ships, four more than the budget request, including:

  • Three DDG 51 Arleigh Burke destroyers, two more than the budget request following the subcommittee’s initial action to restore a second destroyer in 2022. The measure also includes multiyear procurement another for up to 15 destroyers in the next block contract, as well as advanced procurement for a third DDG in 2023. 
  • Two Virginia-class submarines;  
  • One guided missile Frigate (FFG);  
  • One LHA amphibious assault ship
  • Two John Lewis Class T-AO fleet oilers;  
  • One T-AGOS(X) surveillance ship; and  
  • One T-ATS towing, salvage, and rescue ships
  • Two expeditionary fast transport ships (EPF)

The bill also adopted provisions from the Seapower Subcommittee to improve shipbuilding performance, including:

  • A provision that will help ensure ship designs are adequately mature at the start of construction.
  • Another that requires the Navy to make sustainment a Key Performance Parameter (KPP) during the contract bidding process.

Sealift & Maritime – The bill includes several Courtney-led provisions to prioritize the recapitalization and expansion of critical sealift capabilities:

  • John Lewis Class T-AO fleet Oilers – The bill fully authorizes the construction of two John Lewis Class T-AO fleet oilers, which will be operated by Military Sealift Command to provide critical services like underway replenishment of fuel to U.S. Navy and other vessels, allowing them to operate efficiently worldwide.
  • Expeditionary Fast Transport Ships (EPF) – The FY 2022 NDAA authorizes the construction of two expeditionary fast transport ships (EPF) to be operated by Military Sealift Command, which support the rapid transit and deployment of equipment, supplies, and personnel
  • Tanker Security Program (TSP) – The bill fully authorizes the budget request of $60 million for the new Tanker Security Program, created by the Seapower Subcommittee in the FY21 NDAA to address critical gaps in at-sea refueling and logistics.  
  • National Security Multi-Mission Vessel (NSMV) – The bill fully authorizes the fifth and final planned NSMV, a vessel first authorized by the Seapower Subcommittee to meet urgent mariner training needs at the nation’s state maritime academies. Courtney recently visited the Philly shipyard where these boats are under construction and saw first-hand the potential of domestic shipyards to support recapitalization of our sealift capacity through contracting flexibility already authorized by Congress. Click here to learn more.

Aircraft and Projection Forces Capabilities: 

  • Tactical Airlift & C-130 Modernization – Maintains a five-year statutory floor that the Air Force is required to retain for tactical airlift aircraft like the C-130 to meet operational and strategic requirements, and authorizes propulsion and propeller upgrades of Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve C-130H airlift aircraft. 

Other Courtney Priorities

Additional Connecticut Aerospace Priorities:

  • F-35 Joint Strike Fighter - Supports procurement of 80 F-35 aircraft for the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps and reprioritizes F-35 program funding to support the services’ Unfunded Priority Lists that would accelerate and bolster F-35 maintenance activities and procurement of additional engine modules, built at Pratt & Whitney.   
  • Blackhawks - Supports the budget request for 48 UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, built at Sikorsky. 
  • CH53-K – Supports the budget request for 9 CH-53K heavy lift helicopters, built at Sikorsky.

Notable Provisions

Pay raise – Authorizes a 2.7% pay increase for military personnel

Afghanistan – The bill includes several provisions related to Afghanistan, including creation of a bipartisan commission to review the totality of the war and lessons learned. The bill requires that the Defense Department provide information and brief the committee on a wide range of concerns related to the withdrawal from Afghanistan and post-war counterterrorism strategy, reallocating of funds initially requested to support the non-defunct Afghan National Security Forces, and equipment abandoned by Afghan security forces. Finally, the bill includes provisions honoring the servicemen and women who put themselves in harm’s way to support the Kabul airlift operation – especially the thirteen who lost their lives.

Military Justice – Incorporates many recommendations of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military to the Secretary of Defense, including removing the Commander from decisions related to the prosecution of special victim crimes and creating an Office of the Special Victim Prosecutor within in each Service and ensuring their independence by requiring they directly report to the Service Secretary.