WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and co-chair of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission (CSC), celebrated the Senate’s passage of the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), yearly legislation which has now passed 62 times on a bipartisan basis, and which focuses on strengthening American national security and improving the lives of servicemembers and their families.
The 2023 legislation authorizes 3 DDG-51 destroyers that Bath Iron Works can compete to build, bolsters America’s nuclear defenses, and supports other key defense technologies that protect the nation. Also included are significant pay raises for servicemembers and steps to improve mental healthcare for America’s armed forces.
“This year’s National Defense Authorization Act – named after my friend and colleague Senator Jim Inhofe – is a bipartisan bill that will address the pressing national security challenges facing our country and strengthen Maine’s role in contributing to our national defense,” said Senator King. “The bill authorizes one of the largest-ever multi-year procurement of DDG-51 destroyers, which Bath Iron Works can compete to build, bringing important stability to the Maine shipyard’s planning, and allowing them to scale up their production in the years to come. These ships – known as the workhorse of the Navy – are absolutely critical to our national security, and are an important economic driver for Maine communities.
“This year’s legislation provides the backbone of our national defense, including key provisions to ensure our nation can counter growing and rapidly changing threats. It also contains new authorizations to address Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, and supporting the brave Ukrainians fighting for their sovereignty. This bill improves our defensive and offensive hypersonic capabilities, bolsters key cyber defenses, and will help modernize how we assess the capabilities of our enemies and allies alike,” continued Senator King. “Most importantly, the legislation also makes significant investments in the essential core of our Armed Forces – our brave men and women in uniform. Along with a 4.6% pay raise to help servicemembers keep up with rising costs of living, the NDAA will study the suicide epidemic in our military so the Department is better equipped to address this urgent crisis. This bill will make our country safer, strengthen our economy, and reward the men and women who serve in our military – I’m grateful that we could get this bill through the Senate and onto President Biden’s desk.”
Senator King previously spoke on the Senate Floor in support of the National Defense Authorization Act, explaining the pressing need to modernize the nation’s nuclear arsenal, support Ukraine as it fights for freedom, and improve resources for America’s servicemembers with pay raises and mental health care.
Senator King successfully advocated for the inclusion of many provisions that will improve national security, support Maine jobs, and take care of servicemembers and veterans, including:
- FUND SHIPBUILDING PRIORITIES. Along with three DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers for FY2023, the legislation authorizes a multi-year contract for the Navy to procure up to fifteen DDG-51s, which Bath Iron Works (BIW) can compete to build – one of the largest forward commitments of its kind. The bill will require the incorporation of a workforce development incentive in Navy shipbuilding contracts, and the bill authorizes additional funds for DDG supplier development. The bill contains the King-led, forward-looking provision that prescribes that the Navy utilize best practices and a collaborative approach for the DDG(x) program, positively impacting BIW and their future work on the next large surface combatant.
- INVEST IN MAINE INSTALLATIONS. The bill authorizes full funding for Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY) upgrades as part of the Navy’s Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Program's (SIOP). The bill also authorizes $2.5 million for planning and design of a new child development center at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
- INCREASE MILITARY PAY. The legislation authorizes a 4.6 % pay raise for military servicemembers and the DoD civilian workforce.
- SUPPLY MILITARY PERSONNEL WITH HIGH-QUALITY, MAINE-MADE EQUIPMENT. The NDAA authorized additional funds for Joint Strike Fighters including additional funds for seven F-35A aircraft. Other defense programs including submarine and helicopter procurement received full funding. Maine businesses support these important programs that contribute to our National Defense.
- CONFRONT SERVICEMEMBER SUICIDE. As the epidemic of servicemember and veteran suicide continues, the bill requires a review and report on the rates of suicides in the Armed Forces by military occupational specialty during the time period beginning after September 11, 2001, and continuing to the present day, broken down by military occupational specialty, service, and grade. This legislative provision is based on input from a Maine constituent.
- REWARD AND ACKNOWLEDGE MAINE’S LEADERSHIP IN COMPOSITES AND ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING. The NDAA authorized additional funds for the University of Maine including several million dollars in additional funding for high-performance computing-enabled large-scale advanced manufacturing. The SASC Bill requires the Secretary to produce a report on additive manufacturing and make recommendations regarding establishing centers of excellence such as the 101st Air Refueling Wing in Bangor. The NDAA further recognizes the need for rapidly deployable, rigid-wall shelters, with integration protection capabilities like the ones developed by Compotech, based in Brewer, ME. These shelters are already employed by the joint force by USEUCOM, USAFRICOM, and USNORTHCOM.
- TAKE ON THE PFAS CRISIS. As Maine people struggle with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination that includes thousands of diverse chemicals, the NDAA includes significant provisions to address the crisis. It will provide resources to restore PFAS exposed facilities that the National Guard uses to train or operate in; restrict the DoD from purchasing turnout gear for DoD firefighters containing PFAS materials; amend public law to disclose DoD PFAS testing results for private water wells; and require the DoD to provide a report on the schedule for PFAS remediation efforts in drought-stricken areas.
- COUNTER RUSSIAN AGGRESSION AND SUPPORT UKRAINE. With Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine in its fifth month, the legislation extends and modifies the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) and authorizes $800 million in fiscal year 2023 to provide security assistance to Ukraine via this authority. Senator King included a Government Accountability Office audit of the allocation and use of this security assistance.
- ADDRESS THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC BY FIGHTING DRUG TRAFFICKERS. Senator King has consistently urged the Pentagon to step up in the war on drugs, by taking a more active role in stopping drugs from entering the country. The bill increases funding for the military’s counter narcotics missions. The bill also includes a GAO audit of the Department of Defense’s Counterdrug efforts that includes the organization, cross-agency efficiencies, and audit of the use of funds to improve the Department’s ability to stop drug shipments before they reach America’s shores. The bill provides important oversight on U.S. NORTHERN Command, requiring a report on their efforts to support this important mission.
- PROMOTE SMALL BUSINESS INTEGRATION. Across the country, Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) help small business get and navigate Department of Defense contracts. In addition to securing additional funds, the bill included legislation based on valuable input from Mr. Ken Bloch of Eastern Maine Development Corporation (EMDC) and the Director of Maine PTAC. This resulted in legislative changes that would enable these centers to better serve small businesses by increasing the state funding cap and align the program under the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
- STREGTHEN CYBERSECURITY PROTECTIONS. The bill strengthens and supports the cybersecurity posture of the DoD, the defense industrial base, and America’s critical infrastructure. Among the cyber policies advanced by this legislation are a King-led provisions to increase support for U.S. Cyber Command’s (CYBERCOM) Hunt Forward Operations and “red team” efforts, and for CYBERCOM to release biennial, unclassified reports through the 2032 election cycle on their efforts to ensure election security and counter election threats. As co-chair of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, Senator King is a leading Congressional voice on cybersecurity.
- MODERNIZE CRITICAL NUCLEAR DETERRENTS. As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, Senator King is a leader in working to modernize the nation’s nuclear triad and address the threats posed by new hypersonic weapons. The FY23 NDAA includes recommended approaches the Defense Department should take towards improving offensive and defensive hypersonic capabilities, along with new funding to counter these threats.
- IMPROVE AMERICA’S PRESENCE IN THE ARCTIC. With climate change opening the waters of the Arctic, the bill authorizes $167.2 million to continue acquisition of a third Polar Security Cutter Ice Breaker, along with $1 million to establish the Arctic Security Cutter program office to support the future of maritime commerce, climate research and environmental protection in the High North. The bill includes King-led provision requiring the Office of Management and Budget to conduct a crosscut report on Arctic research programs. Additional Arctic reporting includes assessing the ability and timeline to conduct transit in the Northern Sea Route and periodic transits of the Northwest Passage; also, the GAO is directed to conduct an audit of the U.S. Coast Guard arctic operations and infrastructure.
- SUPPORT NEW JETTY AND BEACH NOURISHMENT AT SACO. The bill increased funding for building a new perpendicular jetty at Camp Ellis in Saco Maine to $45 million and eliminated cost share requirements for the city of Saco, Maine. This helps restore a long-standing beach erosion problem.
- TACKLE GLOBAL FOOD INSECURITY. As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine destabilizes global food supplies, the legislation reauthorizes the nation’s Feed the Future hunger and agriculture initiative through 2028, improves food aid oversight, and requires the Biden administration to develop a whole-of-government strategy to address global food challenges.