Courtney welcomes passage of bipartisan defense spending agreement
WASHINGTON—Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-2), Ranking Member of the House Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee and the only Connecticut member who was a part of the conference negotiations, released the following statement after voting in favor of the revised, bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that abides by new budget caps agreed to in the bipartisan budget agreement signed on Monday by President Obama. The revised NDAA maintains spending levels previously agreed to for Connecticut priorities including submarine and helicopter construction, as well as across-the-board pay raises for service members.
“While completing the NDAA took a little more effort this year, I am proud to have played a key role in getting this important measure across the finish line. The agreement passed today is a strong statement of support for Connecticut’s submarine industrial base, anchored by the men and women of Electric Boat, as well as our aerospace industry. The revised NDAA maintains all of the priorities that are critical to our state, and invests wisely in long-term national security priorities, as well as in our military families. As the House Armed Services Committee continues to grapple with a difficult budget climate in the years ahead, I am pleased that the Congressional Budget Office has identified the National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund as a mechanism to realize billions in savings as we move forward with the effort to recapitalize our SSBN fleet,” Courtney said.
Passage of the revised NDAA comes on the heels of a new Congressional Budget Office report on Navy shipbuilding that highlighted the potential for the National Sea Based Deterrence Fund—a Courtney provision proposed in Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, which is maintained in the bill passed today—to save “several hundred million dollars per submarine.” Congressman Courtney spoke on the floor of the House this morning to highlight the findings.
The report states:
Similarly, if the Congress funded the purchase of the Ohio Replacement submarines through the National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund, which was established in the fiscal year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, the Navy could potentially save several hundred million dollars per submarine by purchasing components and materials for several submarines at the same time.
Highlights of the NDAA include:
Submarine Development and Construction
· Virginia Class Submarines -- $5.3 billion for Virginia class submarine construction, including $3.3 billion for two submarines in 2016 and $2 billion for advanced procurement of additional submarines in 2017 and beyond.
· Virginia Payload Module -- $168 million for the development of the Virginia Payload Module, which is being developed to replace the undersea strike and other capabilities lost when the SSGNs retire in the 2020s.
· Ohio Replacement Submarine - Authorizes $1.4 billion for continued development of the Ohio Replacement Program by the Navy, as well as an additional $187 million for Ohio replacement reactor systems development under the Naval Reactors program under the National Nuclear Security Administration. The agreement also expands the National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund (NSBDF) to additional authorities for developing and building the submarine, including incremental funding and Economic Order Quantity (EOQ) authorities, and clarifies that reprogramming authority provided in the creation of the fund last year extends to the entire Defense Department, not just the Navy. The conference report also requires the Nay to submit a report with the FY17 budget outlining the acquisition strategy to build Ohio-class replacement submarines, the potential use of the NSBDF to support the ORP, as well as additional authorities that could be provided to support the program.
Aircraft & Helicopter Development and Procurement
· F-35 Joint Strike Fighter -- $12.2 billion for continued development and procurement of 63 F-35 aircraft.
· Blackhawks -- Authorizes $1.56 billion for 102 M-model aircraft for Army and National Guard (increase of 8 from PB), and $47 million for 40 UH-60A to UH-60L conversions in the Army National Guard. Also authorizes $965 million for 29 MH-60R Multi-Mission Helicopter aircraft, fulfilling the final year of the multiyear procurement (MYP) for MH-60 airframes (FY 2012 to FY 2016). (Sikorsky)
· Combat Rescue Helicopter -- Authorizes $156 million for continued development of the Combat Rescue Helicopter.
· CH-53K -- Authorizes $632 million to support the continuing development of the new heavy lift helicopter, as well as the advance procurement for the first two aircraft planned for FY 2017.
· VH-92A Presidential Helicopter (Marine One)-- Authorizes $507 million for development of the new Presidential Helicopter. (Sikorsky)
· KC-46A Tanker -- Authorizes $2.3 billion for KC-46As to the second year of Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP), procuring 12 aircraft in FY 2016. (Pratt – engines)
Connecticut National Guard
· $11 million for a new Ready Building at Camp Hartell, Windsor Locks — The agreement authorizes $11 million for a new Ready Building at Camp Hartell in Windsor Locks which will build a new facility the 14th Civil Support Team, a team of first responders critical in the event of a suspected or actual nuclear, biological, high explosive or chemical attack.
· C-130H Modernization – The 103rd Airlift Wing at Bradley operates a wing of 8 C-130H aircraft. The agreement authorizes an additional $139 million for a range of upgrades to the C-130H cargo aircraft fleet. Of this total, $75 million is allocated towards the Air Force’s restructured C-130 aviation modernization program (AMP), aimed at accelerating needed upgrades in technology to adhere to the 2020 international airspace access requirements. During House mark-up, Congressman Courtney offered an amendment to add funding for the program and clarify Congress’ support for the upgrades. It also includes $33 million for engine modifications and $16 million for the eight bladed propeller.
Other Notable Provisions
· Military Pay Raise -- authorizes a 2.3 percent across the board pay raise for the military
· Military Retirement Reform – the agreement includes a number of changes to the current retirement system, including allowing the 83% of service members not eligible for military retirement to contribute to a portable Thrift Savings Plan with matching contributions from DoD. Those currently serving, and having less than twelve years of service, have the option of remaining grandfathered into the old system or choosing the new TSP option. Implementation of the new system, however, is delayed until 2018 to allow DoD and relevant stakeholders time for implementation.
· Prohibition on BRAC – Like the House bill, the agreement rejects the administration’s request to conduct a new BRAC round in 2017 (sec. 2702). Congressman Courtney has supported bipartisan efforts to reject a new BRAC, citing concerns with the 2005 round and lack of updated information about the extent of the current need to reduce excess property.