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June 23, 2023

King Secures Investments for Maine Shipyards, Military Servicemembers in Annual Defense Bill

Senator supports Maine shipbuilding, largest servicemember pay raise in decades

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today celebrated the Senate Armed Services Committee’s passage of annual defense legislation that includes a number of important priorities to support Maine communities and strengthen national security. The bipartisan 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers that Bath Iron Works (BIW) can compete to build, the largest pay raise in over 20 years for servicemembers, provisions to study the security threats posed by artificial intelligence, and additional resources to prevent illegal drugs from entering the country.

“The Senate Armed Services Committee has once again produced a defense bill that invests in American communities, supports our men and women in uniform, and meets the country’s evolving national security challenges,” said Senator King. “The bipartisan bill recognizes Maine’s important contributions to our national defense and supports our state’s shipbuilding communities by authorizing at least two Arleigh Burke Destroyers which Bath Iron Works can compete to build. It also addresses some of the most timely threats facing our nation: the growing challenges of artificial intelligence, illegal drug smuggling responsible for the widespread opioid epidemic, and increasing non-proliferation efforts. Perhaps most importantly, the package also invests in our nation’s greatest strength – our people – and includes a significant pay raise to help servicemembers and their families keep up with the rising costs of living. All told, I believe this bill meets the moment for Maine and America, and I am proud that my colleagues were able to put partisanship aside to craft this essential legislation on behalf of our country.”

The Senate Armed Services Committee’s 2024 National Defense Authorization Act includes King-led provisions to:

INVEST IN MAINE SHIPBUILDING AND INSTALLATIONS: This legislation authorizes two DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers for FY2024 that Bath Iron Works (BIW) can compete to build. It also supports advance procurement of DDG to be purchased next year.

These authorizations are supported by King-led provisions to ensure the Navy partners with BIW as they develop next-generation destroyers, to improve long-term planning for shipyards, and to avoid a “gap” in work for the shipyard as the Navy transitions to future ships. BIW will also receive critical quality-of-life infrastructure upgrades, supporting several BIW employee needs.

This legislation also supports critical Maine National Guard facilities and authorizes robust funding for Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNSY) modernization efforts – including their Dry Dock extension that will allow PNSY to increase its capacity to maintain the Navy’s submarine fleet.

SUPPORT AMERICA’S SERVICEMEMBERS: This legislation includes a 5.2 percent pay increase for military and civilian personnel, the largest pay raise in over 20 years for our military and over 40 years for our civilians.

ADDRESS EVOLVING ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE CAPABILITIES: This legislation includes a Senator King-led provision to evaluate technology, including applications, tools, and models, to detect and watermark generative artificial intelligence. This provision would allow the DOD to better identify and detect deep fakes and false information created by bad actors employing AI technology.

SUPPORT TRANSITIONING SERVICEMEMBERS: This legislation includes a King-led initiative to ensure transitioning servicemembers are proactively connected with the State Bureaus of Veterans Services in states they are considering moving to after the military. This warm hand-off initiative will help transitioning servicemembers gain awareness of their earned benefits and assist their search for employment and housing to ensure their success as they enter civilian life.

COMBAT ILLEGAL DRUG TRAFFICKING: This legislation supports plans to counter fentanyl trafficking, counter transitional organized crime, and support increased resources and training for foreign counter-drug partners.

DETER NUCLEAR THREATS: As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, Senator King is a leader in working to modernize the nation’s nuclear triad while increasing research, development, and oversight of hypersonic and directed energy weapons. The FY24 NDAA includes significant investments in preventing proliferator states and terrorist groups from developing or acquiring Weapons of Mass Destruction, and continued support to Maine’s industrial base developing 21st-century technology.

SUPPORT RECRUITING IN THE NORTHEAST: This legislation includes a Senator King-led provision encouraging the DOD to focus America’s recruiting efforts on remote geographic areas lacking military infrastructure and presence.

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