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December 11, 2020

Senate Passes 2021 NDAA with King-Backed Provisions to Advance Maine Priorities and Bolster National Defense

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, voted in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021, which includes several funding and policy priorities advocated for by Senator King to support military facilities and communities in Maine and advance the national defense. The legislation passed in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, 84 to 13 – a large enough margin to override a presidential veto if required.

The legislation now heads to the President’s desk for signature.“For the 60th year in a row, Congress has put political squabbles aside and come together to pass a bipartisan NDAA to support national security and provide for our servicemembers,” said Senator King. “The legislation’s overwhelming passage in both houses shows just how important the NDAA is to the nation; now, the President must put aside his unrelated concerns and sign the bill into law. Beyond its benefits to Bath Iron Works and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and Maine’s workforce that relies on them, this bill is essential to the security of our nation and critical to our military.

“If he were to veto this legislation over an internet provision unrelated to protecting Americans and our interests, the President would be undermining national security, threatening the livelihoods of Maine’s shipbuilders, delaying long-overdue updates to our nation’s cyber defenses, and preventing our nation’s servicemembers from receiving a deserved pay raise. Though I sincerely hope he won’t make that mistake, I would absolutely vote to override his veto – and based on the overwhelming margins in both the House and the Senate, I am hopeful that most of my colleagues would do the same.”

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:

·       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 $334.3 million to fund future year DDG-51 procurements. In addition, the legislation authorizes funds $78.2 million for the completion of the DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class destroyers, all of which are being built at BIW.

·       FUNDING CONSTRUCTION AT MAINE FACILITIES.  The 2021 NDAA authorizes $160 million for construction of Dry Dock One at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard installation at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery. It also includes $26.1 million for perimeter security at the Naval Support Activity (NSA) Cutler in Cutler.

·       ADVANCING CYBERSPACE SOLARIUM COMMISSION’S RECOMMENDATIONS. As the co-chair of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission (CSC), Senator King advocated for the inclusion of 26 provisions backed by the CSC to improve America’s cybersecurity posture. Included in these provisions is the creation of a National Cyber Director – a key CSC priority to boost federal leadership on cybersecurity. Additional provisions will strengthen America’s cyberdefense by empowering the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), examine some of the highest risk areas in cyberspace, and creating a plan to ensure continuity of the economy in the event of a major disruption.

·       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 and development on active protection systems, tungsten manufacturing, and additive manufacturing initiatives. 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 $800.6 million in funding to purchase 7 CH-53 helicopters, which include components produced at Hunting Dearborn in Fryeburg. The legislation also includes $201.2 million for advance procurement of these helicopters.

·       BOLSTER AMERICAN SEMICONDUCTOR MANUFACTURING. The NDAA includes a King-backed amendment to support the production and development of microelectronics in the United States. The amendment mirrors the King-cosponsored American Foundries Act of 2020, and will help support jobs at two Maine factories.

·       RENAMING MILITARY BASES: The conference report establishes a commission to study and provide recommendations concerning the removal of names, symbols, displays, and monuments that honor the Confederate States of America on Department of Defense land and facilities worldwide. This report must be made within three years of the NDAA’s enactment.

·       IMPROVING PANDEMIC RESPONSE: In order to bolster America’s response to any future pandemic disease, the conference report directs the Secretary of Defense to develop a strategy for pandemic preparedness in response.

·       INCREASING MILITARY PAY. The legislation authorizes a 3 percent pay raise for members of the Armed Forces, and increases hazard pay by 10 percent.

·       EXPANDING TELEHEALTH FOR VETERANS: This year’s NDAA would expand the ability for VA health professionals to provide healthcare via telemedicine. This effort builds on work done during the coronavirus pandemic to improve access to care for veterans, and would help older veterans and those who live in rural areas stay connected to healthcare providers. 

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