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June 30, 2020

King Advances Maine Priorities, Ensures National Security, Increases Military Pay, Accelerates Coronavirus Response Through National Defense Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, voted on Monday to proceed to Senate debate on the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The legislation includes a number of provisions proposed and advocated for by Senator King, which will support Maine jobs, bolster our national security, and boost our economy and military in the face of the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.  The bill also includes a number of provisions that were recommended by the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, which was co-chaired by Senator King and recently released a series of recommendations to help develop a 21st century cyber defense posture for the United States. Expenditures authorized by the 2021 NDAA bill fall within the limits established within the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019.

“This year’s NDAA is once again a testament to the bipartisan nature of the Committee, which puts politics aside to create a strong bill that will support our national security and our servicemembers,” said Senator King. “The legislation includes vital funding to support national security and Maine jobs, rises to the challenge of the coronavirus crisis by authorizing research funding, gives members of the Armed Forces a pay raise, and takes steps to take care of both the mental and physical health of our servicemembers. This widely bipartisan legislation will help keep Americans safe, and I’m looking forward to seeing the bill continue to progress on the Senate floor.”

Senator King successfully advocated for the inclusion of many provisions that will improve national security and support Maine jobs, including:

·       FUNDING SHIPBUILDING PRIORITIES. The legislation authorizes $3.0 billion for the procurement of 2 DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers in fiscal year 2021, which Bath Iron Works (BIW) can compete to build. It also authorizes $464 million to fund future year DDG-51 procurements. In addition, the legislation authorizes funds for the completion of the DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class destroyers, all of which are being built at BIW.

·       ADVANCING CYBERSPACE SOLARIUM COMMISSION’S RECOMMENDATIONS. As the co-chair of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission (CSC), Senator King advocated for the inclusion of a number of the CSC’s recommendations in the NDAA. These provisions will strengthen America’s cyberdefense, examine some of the highest risk areas in cyberspace, and explore the feasibility of establishing a National Cyber Director – a key CSC recommendation.  

·       IMPROVING LONG-DURATION ENERGY STORAGE TECHNOLOGY. The NDAA includes Senator King’s legislation to establish a joint program between the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Energy (DOE) to maximize the use of federal research funding to help improve long-duration energy storage development. The expanded availability of this storage technology will increase the impact of renewable energy by allowing consumers to store excess energy for use during non-peak production hours, will increase grid reliability, and can keep servicemembers safer by reducing the need for our military to transport flammable liquid fuels. 

·       SUPPORTING RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT WORK. Senator King successfully pushed for the inclusion of additional funds for Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation programs, including funding for research on active protection systems, next generation weapons, electric propulsion, advanced planning hulls, and hybrid composite structures. Maine research institutions and companies will be eligible to compete for some of these projects.

·       PROVIDING MILITARY PERSONNEL WITH HIGH-QUALITY, MAINE-MADE EQUIPMENT. The NDAA authorizes $793 million in funding to purchase 7 CH-53 helicopters, which include components produced at Hunting Dearborn in Fryeburg. The legislation also includes $191 million for advance procurement of these helicopters.

The legislation also takes step to support our military servicemembers, including responding to the coronavirus crisis to ensure they are able to continue to serve their nation while also protecting their health and that of their families. Provisions include:

·       INCREASING MILITARY PAY. The legislation authorizes a 3 percent pay raise for members of the Armed Forces.

·       PROVIDING HAZARD PAY FOR SERVICEMEMBERS. The legislation would offer hazardous duty pay for servicemembers who are continuing to perform their duties to keep the nation safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

·       SUPPORTING MENTAL HEALTH FOR SERVICEMEMBERS AND FAMILY. The legislation directs the Secretary of Defense to develop a plan to protect and promote the mental health and well-being of servicemembers and their dependents within 6 months of the legislation becoming law. The order specifically aims to break the stigma surrounding mental health, and would deal with the negative mental health effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

·       AUTHORIZING ADDITIONAL RESOURCES FOR CORONAVIRUS RESEARCH. This year’s NDAA authorizes $44 million for research into a potential coronavirus vaccine, as well as  additional biotech research. The legislation also makes Department of Energy High Performance Computing Capabilities available for coronavirus research.

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