Courtney Statement On Passage Of Defense Appropriations Bil
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-2), ranking member of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, released the following statement after voting for the 2017 Defense Appropriations Act, which passed with bipartisan support by a vote of 282 to 138:
“Defense related manufacturing is a central part of our region’s economic recovery and future, and the funding bill passed today invests the resources needed to keep the current trends on track. Coupled with the defense authorization bill I helped craft and pass in the House in May, this bill supports Virginia class submarines, the Ohio Replacement, and a range of other programs vital not just to Connecticut, but to the nation. It is a testament to the exceptional workers who supply and build the most advanced submarines in the world that we are continuing to prioritize these programs, even while making tough budgetary decisions about how to allocate limited resources.”
“While I supported this bill today, I continue to have deep reservations about overuse of the Overseas Contingency Operations account to fund regular Defense Department operations. This mechanism reflects the continued failure of this Congress to take the necessary action to resolve the looming threat of sequestration and fully fund the government through the next year. Those issues, however, are much larger than the scope of the defense authorization bill or the jurisdiction of the House Armed Services Committee. I have repeatedly called on House Republican leaders to come to the table to address the threats of sequestration and budget control caps that will inflict damage on all segments of the national defense budget. It is long past time for them to negotiate a long-term budget agreement that will allow us to make necessary investments across the federal system, from education and health care to assistance for our most vulnerable citizens, to defense priorities that keep us safe and drive our economy in eastern Connecticut.”
A summary of the bill follows:
Submarine Development and Construction
Virginia Class Submarines – appropriates $3.2 billion to fund two Virginia class submarines for 2017, and an additional $1.7 billion in advanced procurement funding for boats to be procured in 2018 and 2019. It also supports funding for continued development of the Virginia Payload Module (VPM) to ensure that our submarines are able to meet future undersea strike and payload delivery needs.
Ohio Replacement Submarine – fully supports the $1.9 billion requested for 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. Of that total, $773 million is allocated for detailed design to support construction of the first submarine.
Aircraft & Helicopter Development and Procurement
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – funds 74 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, 11 more than the budget request, at a total cost of $10.1 billion. Congressman Courtney worked to restore aircraft that were removed from the budget in order to meet the urgent needs of the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps and ensure continued progress towards reducing the costs of these vital aircraft.
B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber – fully supports the continued development of the B-21 Long Range Strike Bomber, which will be powered by Pratt & Whitney engines, by appropriating $2.2 billion for research and development.
UH-60 Blackhawks – adds $440.2 million to procure 36 more UH-60’s than the budget request, totaling 72 airframes and almost $1.4 billion. Congressman Courtney worked to restore these aircraft to meet the Army’s unfunded priorities, and ensure efficient production rates of this critical program as it enters into the next five year multiyear contract (2017-2021). This purchase will allow the Army to retain Apache attack helicopters within the National Guard without compromising medium-lift capacity in the active component.
Combat Rescue Helicopter – supports the budget request for continued deployment of the new HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter, being built by Sikorsky, as well as five demonstration aircraft.
CH-53K – supports 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 – supports 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 bill also supports the ongoing developmental and operational testing of the new tanker.
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 measure 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) for upgrading the C-130 fleet –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 bill fully supports this program by providing the $9 million requested in the budget and investing in additional propulsion and propeller upgrades to further enhance the capabilities of the fleet by adding $149 million to the President’s budget request.
Other Notable Provisions:
Denies New BRAC round -- the bill explicitly prohibits funding from being used to initiate a new base closing round in 2019.
Military Pay Raise – funds a military pay raise of 2.1%, an increase of half a percent above the budget request.