November 17, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today spoke on the Senate Floor in support of the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). In his speech, Senator King highlighted the Senate’s continued bipartisan work to strengthen our national security, support America’s men and women in uniform, and shared key provisions of the defense package that will keep Americans safe and sustain Maine communities — including a 2.7% payraise for military servicemembers and DOD civilian workforce, 12 weeks of parental leave for military personnel, and funding for two DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers that Bath Iron Works will compete to build.
Senator King discusses important provisions of the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act
“The Armed Services Committee has produced a bill that will make our nation safer and stronger,” said Senator King. “For example, taking care of our servicemembers: a 2.7% pay raise for military servicemembers and the Department of Defense civilian workforce. That pay raise is important. If this bill doesn't pass, it won't happen. So that's one of the immediate reasons that we need to pass this bill, to provide a pay raise to our military personnel. They will also receive 12 weeks of parental leave for birth, adoption, and foster care placement of a child.”
“One of the provisions that I am interested in is that there is substantial support in this bill for our naval infrastructure. It authorizes funding for two destroyers which Bath Iron Works in the state of Maine will be able to compete for, and in furtherance supports our Navy's ability to deter adversaries around the world,” continued Senator King. “This bill demonstrates Congress' intent to support the Navy, to support shipbuilding, and to support the industrial base. One of the things the bill does is provide for a new -- what they call a multiyear contract where the Navy commits to buying more than one ship at a time which gives them a better price per ship. That's good for the taxpayers. It also gives some assurance to the industrial base that the jobs will be there, that the work will be there in order to maintain the support.
“We often forget that the companies that do these amazing – produce these amazing products cannot be turned off and on like a switch. I have visited shipyards. I visited in Norfolk, I visited in Maine, in Portsmouth, and at Bath Iron Works many times. And these are amazingly complicated pieces of machinery. I believe that the destroyers built at Bath Iron Works are quite possibly the most complex product built in America. The people that build them have to know that they're going to have a job a year from now and two years from now. We can't go herky-jerky from one year to the next. Once you lose a welder who goes somewhere else, it's hard to get him back.”
Later in his remarks, Senator King – who chairs the Cybersecurity Solarium Commission and the Senate Subcommittee on Strategic Forces– highlighted important provisions of the bill that would ensure America is ready for potential conflicts of the future.
“I worked for the last two years on something called the National Cyberspace Solarium Commission. Our job was to come together to form and recommend a national strategy in cyberspace to defend this country, which we did in March of 2020,” said Senator King. “A number of the recommendations of our commissions were enacted last year, either in the National Defense Authorization Act or in other areas of legislation that we passed, and this year there are some really crucial ones in this year's National Defense Authorization Act – crucial provisions to defend this country in cyberspace. Mr. President, the next 9/11 will be cyber. And if we are not ready for it after all the warnings that we've had, shame on us. Worse than shame on us, it will be destructive of this country. And that's why I'm so proud that there are provisions in this bill that will help us to respond, that will help us to understand what's going on, will help the private sector and the federal government to work together to meet and defeat this 21st century challenge.”
“This bill also secures the future of the nuclear triad. Strategic Forces, otherwise known as nuclear weapons, are hard to talk about. They're hard to think about because they're so horrendous. But to go back to the beginning of my remarks, the issue here is deterrence, and we have had a deterrent strategy virtually since 1945, and it has worked. Thank God there has not been a use of nuclear weapons since 1945. Why? Because of the strategy that every adversary knows that they will pay an awful price if they attack us using nuclear weapons,” continued Senator King. “As Chairman of the Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, we have had hearings, we have had discussions, we have had readings on how do we successfully modernize our nuclear triad, bombers, submarines, and missiles, in such a way as to ensure the vitality of the deterrent strategy. And the problem is, Mr. President, that all three of those legs of the triad have basically been unattended to for 30 or 40 or sometimes 50 years, and as they degrade in capability, so also degrades the capability of our deterrence
“If the adversaries look and say they're trying to fly 50-year-old airplanes or they're trying to defend themselves with missiles that are unsure of whether they will work, then the adversary says “well maybe we can get away with an attack”. And therein lies a path to a horrendous nuclear conflict, which has to be avoided. The best way to avoid it is to be sure that our deterrence is credible. The only way to make it credible is to be sure that it's modernized, and that's exactly what this bill contemplates.”
Earlier this year, Senator King announced that the Senate Armed Services Committee’s markup of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022 included a number of important priorities that he advocated for, including the $3.7 billion for the procurement of 2 DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, a 2.7% payraise for military servicemembers and DOD civilian workforce, the advancement of several cybersecurity priorities, and 12 weeks of parental leave for military personnel. A dedicated member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), Senator King chairs SASC’s Strategic Forces Subcommittee and serves on the Seapower and Airland Subcommittees.