WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) announced today the Senate Armed Services Committee, of which he is a member, has approved the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with a number of provisions that he supported that will benefit Maine.
“Maine has long played a vital role in protecting our nation and this legislation demonstrates that we will continue to far into the future as well,” Senator King said. “From the construction of a new facility at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and a new National Guard Center in Presque Isle, to the continued production of advanced warships at Bath Iron Works and high-quality aircraft parts at companies across the state, Maine is poised to contribute significantly to our military while people across the state will benefit from good-paying jobs. I am proud to fight to support Maine jobs that help strengthen our national security.”
Senator King secured several major victories that will directly benefit Maine, including:
- NEW FACILITY AT PORTSMOUTH NAVAL SHIPYARD: The legislation authorizes $61,692,000 for the construction of a paint, blast, and rubber facility at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery. Senator King also supported an amendment authored by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) that calls for a study on dry dock capacity to identify and support the shipyard infrastructure needs at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
More broadly, the legislation also directs the Secretary of the Navy to submit a report detailing an engineering master plan and investment strategy for modernizing the Navy’s public shipyards, like Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. This report, due by February 1, 2018, will require a review of the infrastructure, facilities, and major equipment at public shipyards and will result in a new modernization and investment strategy to ensure that public shipyards are able to fulfill their mission.
- NEW NATIONAL GUARD CENTER IN PRESQUE ISLE: The legislation authorizes $17,500,000 for the construction of a new National Guard Readiness Center in Presque Isle.
- FUNDING FOR SHIPBUILDING PRIORITIES: The legislation authorizes more than $5.71 billion for Navy destroyer programs, including more than $5 billion for the procurement of three DDG-51 Arleigh Burke destroyers in fiscal year 2018 that Bath Iron Works can compete to build, as well as more than $264 million for the continued production of DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class destroyers, all of which are being built at Bath.
Senator King also cosponsored an amendment authored by Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) in support of the Navy’s Force Structure Assessment requirement for 355 battle force fleet ship. The amendment also requires the Secretary of the Navy to deliver a report to the congressional defense committees which shows a detailed business case analysis for a variety of options with which to reach the 355 ship objective.
- JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER: The bill authorizes the procurement 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.
- LONG RANGE STRIKE BOMBER: The bill authorizes more than $2 billion for research, development, testing and evaluation of the long-range stealth bomber, B-21, which will be a central pillar of our national security strategy to deal with future threats. Pratt & Whitney in North Berwick will be the engine supplier for the B-21.
- CH-53K HELICOPTER: The bill authorizes more than $847 million to procure six CH-53K helicopters. Hunting Dearborn in Fryeburg manufactures the rotor shaft for this helicopter.
- NO NEW BRAC ROUND: This legislation rejects the President’s call in his Fiscal Year 2018 budget request for additional base closures under the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. The last BRAC process occurred in 2005 when a recommendation to close the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was ultimately overturned by the BRAC Commission, but Brunswick Naval Air Station was closed.
Senator King also secured several additional victories, including:
- FIGHTING UNFAIR DRUG PRICES: Senator King successfully included an amendment aimed at reducing drug prices of medicines and treatments that benefitted from Department of Defense research. The provision directs the DoD to authorize third parties to use inventions that benefited from Department funding whenever the price of a drug, vaccine, or other medical technology is higher in the U.S. than the median price charged in the seven largest economies that have a per capita income at least half the per capita income of the U.S.
- FACILITATING TRANSITION TO VETERAN STATUS: Senator King cosponsored an amendment authored by Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) that would encourage cooperation and integration between the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense with their electronic health care record systems to improve the transition from active duty to veteran status and ensure that veterans won’t have to wait to gain access to the health care services they have earned.
- PREVENTING VETERAN SUICIDE: Senator King cosponsored an amendment authored by Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) that would encourage the Secretaries of Veterans Affairs and Defense to assess the feasibility of establishing a joint office to house an interagency task force on suicide prevention. Senator King supports the coordination between the departments so that those who have served do not slip through the cracks.
- DEVELOPING AN ARCTIC STRATEGY: Senator King authored an amendment that highlights the importance of the Arctic region to the U.S. and expresses support for the Department of Defense’s recommendations in the 2016 Arctic Strategy report. Additionally, the amendment expresses the Committee’s concern with regard to current U.S. icebreaker capacity. The provision directs the Secretary of Defense to conduct an Arctic wargame to assess the strategy, assumptions, and capabilities of the U.S. Northern Command to secure, stabilize, and assure access to all international waters, airspace, and homeland approaches in the Arctic.
- BUILDING ICEBREAKERS: Senator King cosponsored an amendment authored by Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) authorizing the procurement of up to six polar-class icebreakers, including polar-class heavy icebreakers and polar-class medium icebreakers. Senator King has long said that the U.S. must invest in building more icebreakers to ensure a stronger strategic presence in the Arctic.
- ELIMINATING SEQUESTRATION: Senator King authored a bipartisan amendment articulating the negative impact of the Budget Control Act of 2011 on the Department of Defense and other agencies that contribute to national security and that supports its unconditional repeal.
- STRENGTHENING CYBERSECURITY: The legislation includes language supported by Senator King requiring a cyber deterrence policy and strategy review that will examine the U.S.’s cyber posture in the next five to ten years. The bill also requires and commanders of U.S. Strategic Command and U.S. Cyber Command to conduct a joint assessment annually. These provisions build on work that Senator King has done in the past regarding U.S. cyber deterrence policy.
The Fiscal Year 2018 NDAA establishes policies and authorizes funding for the Department of Defense as well as the national security programs of the Department of Energy. It provides for the pay and benefits earned by members of the military and their families, provides for national defense including authorization of funds for military operations in places like Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, and represents a vision of America’s national security goals, resources, and policies. The legislation was approved unanimously today by the Senate Armed Services Committee and is expected to move to the Senate floor.