Skip to content

June 18, 2015

Defense Authorization Bill Passes Senate with King Provisions Important to Maine

King secures additional DDG-51 funding authorizations and expansion of HUBZone program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With the support of U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), the United States Senate today passed the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act with provisions important to Maine. Most notably, the bill includes a provision authored by Senator King that would authorize an additional $400 million in incremental funding for an additional DDG-51 class destroyer as well as a provision that improves the eligibility criteria for the HUBZone program.

“This legislation continues to demonstrate the vital role that Maine plays in supporting our national security,” Senator King said. “And from authorizing funding for an additional DDG-51 that could be built at Bath Iron Works to expanding and improving the HUBZone program to assist communities that have been impacted by the recent closure of a military base, it’s also a bill that will support Maine jobs as we work to bolster our security at home and our presence abroad.”

The bill, which Senator King worked on as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and supported when it passed out of the committee on May 14, 2015, includes the following provisions significant to Maine:

  • FUNDING FOR SHIPBUILDING PRIORITIES: The bill authorizes almost $4 billion for Navy destroyer programs, including $433 million for the construction of DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class destroyers, and $3.1 billion for the procurement of two DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, one of which will be built at Bath. The bill also includes $400 million in incremental funding for an additional DDG-51 that the Navy could procure in the next three years, potentially at Bath Iron Works.
  • HUBZONES: The bill improves the eligibility criteria of HUBZones located at former U.S. military installations closed through the so-called “Base Closure and Realignment,” or BRAC process by allowing businesses that locate on a closed base to draw employees from just outside the boundaries of the closed base to meet the 35 percent requirement. Additionally, Senator King’s amendment would also extend the period of time for which a closed base is eligible for HUBZone status from five years after closure to eight years.
  • FEDERAL PROPERTY MANAGEMENT: The bill authorizes a pilot program spearheaded by Senator King and Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) that would save money and encourage more efficient federal property management by streamlining the process by which the U.S. Army disposes of unused or underutilized properties.
  • MILITARY CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS: The bill authorizes $7.2 million for improvements to the fire and rescue station at the Bangor International Airport. Senator King also co-sponsored an amendment that established the committee’s expectation that the Navy will accelerate the modernization of the junior enlisted barracks at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard by requesting funding for the project in fiscal year 2017.
  • JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER: The bill authorizes the procurement of a total of 63 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters of all three variants. Several Maine-based companies, including Pratt & Whitney in North Berwick and General Dynamics in Saco, are in the supply and production chain for this fifth generation fighter.
  • NO NEW BRAC ROUND: Senator King, along with his colleagues on the committee, rejected the President’s call in his Fiscal Year 2016 budget request for additional base closures under the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. The last BRAC process occurred in 2005 when the Pentagon's recommendation to close the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was ultimately overturned by the BRAC Commission, but their recommendation to close Brunswick Naval Air Station was accepted.

Following final passage of the 2016 NDAA, Senator King opposed a procedural motion to proceed to the defense appropriations bill. While the NDAA authorizes funding and programs, the defense appropriations bill directs the government to spend money. Senator King opposed moving onto consideration of the appropriations bill because he does not believe Congress should use emergency war contingency funding to avoid the spending caps to fund defense priorities and that Congress should not ignore caps to spending on the domestic side. Following the vote, Senator King called on his colleagues to end sequestration across the entire government and not just for defense spending:

“We are only hurting our country and future generations by refusing to fix sequestration once and for all. It’s far past time for us to get rid of this problem all together – not just for one department, not using budget gimmicks, and not when we’re up against an October deadline,” Senator King said. “I hope that rather than slinging partisan shots at one another, we can sit down, and negotiate a serious compromise that will include the right mix of targeted spending cuts and revenue increases that are needed to grow our economy and create jobs while still getting a handle on our national debt.

“Now let me be clear: my vote should not be misconstrued as opposition to the vital funding that supports our national security missions underway across the globe or our servicemen and women. In fact, there is much in this bill that I strongly support. At the same time, there are critical national security provisions – like the FBI and Border Control, which are not included in the defense bill and which are left fully subject to the sequester,” Senator King continued. “I will continue to push for that important funding – but only as part of a balanced package of appropriations bills that eliminates sequestration.”

The 2016 defense appropriations bill, which contains provisions that Senator King supports – such as an additional $1 billion for the construction of an additional DDG-51 destroyer pushed for by Senator Susan Collins – lifts sequestration on defense spending by adding borrowed funds rather than paying for the additional spending via cuts or revenues. However, other appropriations bill under consideration in the Senate – including those for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Border Control, Coast Guard, and other national security priorities – maintain the sequester cuts, thereby continuing to starve important priorities and programs from education programs to infrastructure investment to national security and beyond.

Additionally, the defense appropriation bill draws money from within the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account – an emergency war funding account – as a workaround on the budget caps set by sequestration. As a result, defense spending in the legislation is increased without violating the technical limitations in current law. However, national security leaders across military services have said it is not optimal to increase defense spending via a one-year OCO increase to support core military programs that are typically funded using five-year projections of predictable funding.

Senator King has long been a proponent for responsible budgeting, calling on his colleagues repeatedly to eliminate sequestration. He is a member of a small bipartisan group of senators working to solve the sequester across the government.


Next Article » « Previous Article