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November 10, 2015

Senate Passes Defense Authorization Bill with King-Measures Supporting Maine

Authorizations for shipbuilding & HUBZone improvement set to become law

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) announced today that the Senate has passed the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by a vote of 91-3. The legislation includes a $250 million authorization secured by Senator King for a DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer that could be built at Bath Iron Works. It also includes a provision authored in part by Senator King that would improve the HUBZone program to better stimulate economic activity at former military installations, like the former Brunswick Naval Air Station. The bill now heads to the President’s desk for his signature to become law.

“The men and women of the Armed Forces, along with the thousands of people across the country who work in defense-related industries, serve our country with honor and distinction. By approving this bill, the Senate ensured that they will have the tools, resources, and support they need to do their jobs, protect our national security, and meet the challenges presented by ongoing conflicts across the globe,” Senator King said. “I am pleased Congress and the President were able to work together to resolve our differences, and I look forward to seeing this bill – and all of its important policy initiatives – signed into law.”

As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which writes the legislation, Senator King secured an additional $250 million authorization for a DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer that could be built by Bath Iron Works. The authorization lays the groundwork for the construction of a ship that Senator King believes is owed to Bath Iron Works by the Navy under the terms of a 2002 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). However, if the Navy determines that it does not owe a ship to BIW, then the $250 million could be used in Fiscal Year 2018 or afterward as part of a future multi-year procurement for Arleigh Burke Class Destroys, for which BIW could compete.

“This additional authorization positions Bath Iron Works to either receive another DDG-51 contract under the terms of the 2002 agreement – a ship I strongly believe they deserve – or compete to build another destroyer in the coming years,” Senator King said. “The Navy relies on the ships built at Bath as the workhorse of the fleet, and no one builds them better than the highly-skilled workforce at BIW.”

The bill also includes a provision authored in part by Senator King that that improves the eligibility criteria of HUBZones located at former U.S. military installations closed through the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. The provision expands the boundaries of base closure HUBZones to allow businesses to draw employees from surrounding areas to meet the program’s 35 percent employee residency requirement. The amendment would also extend the period of time for which a closed base is eligible for HUBZone status from five years after closure to a minimum of eight years.

            “When a military base closes, it’s often the surrounding towns that take the hardest hit. But a base closure doesn’t have to spell economic doom,” Senator King said. “With the improvements in this bill, the HUBZone program will become a powerful and more effective tool to help towns bounce back from base closings by attracting new businesses and creating good jobs.”

“The new HUBZone language will create significant new federal contracting opportunities for Midcoast-area small businesses. This will be a game-changer for businesses located on the former base and in the communities most affected by the closure of NAS Brunswick,” said Steve Levesque, the Executive Director of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority which oversees the redevelopment of the former Brunswick Naval Air Station. “I thank Senator King for his strong leadership on this critical issue and the collaborative support by all the rest of the Maine’s congressional team.”

In addition, the bill authorizes the following:

  • FUNDING FOR SHIPBUILDING PRIORITIES: The bill authorizes almost $4 billion for Navy destroyer programs, including $433 million for the construction of DDG-1000 Zumwalt destroyers – all of which are being built at Bath Iron Works – and $3.1 billion for the procurement of two DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers in Fiscal Year 2016, one of which will be built at Bath.
  • FEDERAL PROPERTY MANAGEMENT: The bill authorizes a pilot program spearheaded by Senator King and Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) that would save resources and encourage more efficient federal property management by streamlining the process by which the U.S. Army disposes of unused or underutilized properties.
  • MILITARY CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS: The bill authorizes $7.2 million for improvements to the fire and rescue station at the Bangor International Airport.
  • JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER: The bill authorizes the procurement of a total 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.
  • NO NEW BRAC ROUND: This legislation rejects the President’s call in his Fiscal Year 2016 budget request for additional base closures under the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. The last BRAC process occurred in 2005 when the Pentagon's recommendation to close the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was ultimately overturned by the BRAC Commission, but their recommendation to close Brunswick Naval Air Station was accepted.

The House and Senate passed the bill today after Armed Services Committee leaders in both chambers adjusted it to conform to spending levels established under the two-year budget deal negotiated by Congressional leadership and the President and passed by Congress on October 30th to avoid a government default on its debt.

The NDAA had originally been passed by the Senate on October 7th, but was vetoed by President Obama due to concerns over funding mechanisms. However, those concerns have since been resolved under the two-year budget agreement.

The 2016 NDAA authorizes funding for the Department of Defense as well as national security programs under the Department of Energy. The legislation provides for the pay and benefits earned by members of the military and their families as well as for national defense including authorization of funds for counter-ISIL operations in Iraq and Syria, and represents a broad, bipartisan consensus about America’s national security goals, resources, and policies.


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