WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, applauded the Senate passage of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which authorizes military spending for Fiscal Year 2019, with a number of provisions that he supported that will benefit Maine. The bill was passed last night by a vote of 85 to 10.
“The programs authorized in this year’s NDAA will make important contributions to our national defense – just as the bill’s namesake, Senator John McCain, has done,” said Senator King. “This overwhelmingly bipartisan vote reflects the importance of ensuring our military has the tools it needs to protect our citizens, and the inclusion of so many Maine-based projects in this legislation reflects just how important our state is to America’s national security. This year’s NDAA will support good Maine jobs and make Americans safer, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House of Representatives to reconcile the differences in our bills and see it signed into law later this year.”
Senator King secured several major victories that will directly benefit Maine if they remain in the final bill signed by the President, including:
- FUNDING FOR SHIPBUILDING PRIORITIES: The legislation authorizes $5.2 billion for the procurement of 3 DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers in fiscal year 2019 that Bath Iron Works can compete to build, and $642 million to fund future year DDG-51 procurements. It also includes $271 million for the continued production of DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class destroyers, all of which are being built in Bath.
- INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENTS AT PORTSMOUTH NAVAL SHIPYARD: The legislation authorizes $161.2 million for infrastructure modernizations at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, which includes the development of a dry dock super flood basin, improvements to the portal crane rail, and the construction of a new consolidated warehouse.
- FUNDING FOR ARMY WEAPON PRODUCTION: The bill authorizes $310.4 million for the Bradley Program (MOD), which procures M2 conversions and upgrades to the platform, as well as $22.3 million for continued production of crew served and multi-barrel weapons needed to ensure war readiness. The inclusion of this funding will help support General Dynamics' manufacturing facility in Saco.
- CH-53K HELICOPTER: The bill authorizes more than $1.27 billion to procure eight CH-53K helicopters. Hunting Dearborn in Fryeburg manufactures the rotor shaft for this helicopter.
- FUNDING FOR IMPROVED TURBINE ENGINE PROGRAM: This legislation authorizes $192.6 million for the Improved Turbine Engine Program (ITEP), which accelerates the program and ensures it will receive strong funding in the future. Honeywell in Westbrook and Pratt and Whitney in North Berwick are both in the supply chain for ITEP.
Senator King also secured several additional victories, including:
- REPEALING LONG-TERM TEMPORARY DUTY POLICY FOR GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES, INCLUDING SHIPYARD WORKERS: Senator King cosponsored an amendment offered by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) to repeal the Department of Defense’s policy limiting per diem reimbursements for government employees conducting long-term temporary duty travel. This policy, which was implemented in 2014, threatens the ability of public naval shipyards, like Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, to effectively and efficiently conduct Navy ship maintenance, modernization and repair.
- FACILITATING CONNECTION BETWEEN SEPARATING SERVICEMEMBERS AND BENEFITS AGENCIES: Senator King authored an amendment that would encourage service secretaries to ensure that separating servicemembers are informed of the benefits of providing an email contact during their transition counseling. By increasing the percentage of veterans who provide this contact, authorized stakeholders, including state veterans affairs offices, will be able to improve the efficiency and speed with which they provide access to veterans benefits.
- CLOSING JURISDICTIONAL GAP TO PROTECT JUVENILE VICTIMS OF ASSAULT ON MILITARY BASES: Senator King successfully offered an amendment based on a bill he cosponsored with Senator John Cornyn (R-Tex.) that would close jurisdictional loopholes that prevent juvenile perpetrators of sexual assault against other children from facing prosecution. Historically, only one in seven juvenile sexual assault cases presented from military investigators are pursued by federal prosecutors, often due to lack of resources; the King-Cornyn provision would retrocede legislative jurisdiction of criminal offenses committed by juveniles on military installations to the state, commonwealth or territory in which the base is located.
- PROVIDING A PAY INCREASE FOR SERVICEMEMBERS: The legislation includes a provision supported by Senator King which provides a 2.6% pay increase to members of the military.
- REFORMING SECURITY CLEARANCE PROCESSES: The legislation includes a number of amendments offered by Senator King aimed at reforming the process for granting security clearances and reducing the existing backlog. Senator King has pushed this issue in a number of committee hearings.
- STRENGTHENING CYBER DETERRENCE: The legislation includes language that requires the development of a cyber deterrence policy, which would provide offensive cyber response options to address the full range of potential cyber-attacks carried out by our adversaries against the United States. Senator King has strongly advocated for a national cyber deterrence policy at Senate Armed Service Committee hearings.
- DEVELOPING AN ARCTIC STRATEGY: Senator King supported an amendment from Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) that highlights the strategic importance of the Arctic region to the U.S. and directs the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force to submit a report to the congressional defense committees outlining each service’s strategy in the Arctic.
- BUILDING ICEBREAKERS: Senator King supported an amendment authored by Senator Sullivan 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.