Congressman Joe Courtney and the House of Representatives today passed the FY13 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), bolstering eastern Connecticut's industrial base. The bill includes measures drafted by Rep. Courtney as a member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Expeditionary Forces --and supported by the bipartisan Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus -- to ensure steady submarine production in 2014, and authorizes up to 10 Virginia Class Submarines as part of the Block IV multi-year contract for 2014-2018. The NDAA sets the federal budget for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year beginning on October 1, 2012.
The NDAA includes $4.8 billion in funding for the Virginia-class attack submarine program, including $3.2 billion to build two submarines in 2013 and $1.6 billion in advanced production funding for submarines in 2014 and 2015 -- including $777.8 million above the President's budget request to restore a second 2014 submarine that was removed as part of the budget request earlier this year. The bill marks the third-consecutive year of fully funding doubled submarine production -- a goal Courtney worked on for nearly five years, beginning in his first year in Congress -- and ensures a stable, two-a-year production rate through 2018.
"Steady production of two submarines a year is not just good for Electric Boat; it also has a massive economic impact that ripples across our state and our country," said Congressman Courtney. "I am proud to have worked on a bipartisan basis to reverse a misguided decision to remove one of the 2014 submarines from the shipbuilding plan. Additional design work on the OHIO replacement program has already directly led to EB's expansion into Pfizer's New London complex, and fostered a hiring boom that is obvious on EB's online job postings. The new work already underway and the work bolstered by today's vote solidify those gains, providing security for our region's economy and for the men and women of EB who routinely complete submarines ahead of schedule and under budget."
Below are selected provisions of the bill:
Virginia Class Submarine. The NDAA authorizes $4.8 billion for the Virginia Class submarine program. This total includes $3.2 billion for two submarines in 2013, and $1.6 billion for advanced procurement of additional submarines. Of that total, $777.8 million is provided to restore a second 2014 submarine that was removed from the plan as part of the budget request. In addition, the bill provides the navy with multiyear procurement authority to enter into the next "block" of submarines, maintaining a stable 10 boat, 2-a-year production rate through 2018. The bill also permits the Navy to use incremental funding for Virginia class submarines to be procured during fiscal years 2013 through 2018 if the secretary determines that such an approach would permit the Navy to procure an additional Virginia class submarine in FY 2014 and intends to use the funding for that purpose.
Development of the replacement Ohio-Class SSBN. The bill authorizes $565 million for the Ohio Replacement Program, which will develop the replacement of the current fleet of Ohio Class Submarines. These submarines are expected to begin construction in 2021, with significant research and development work at Electric Boat over the next several years.
Joint Strike Fighter. The conference report authorizes $5.9 billion for 29 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, which are powered by Pratt and Whitney engines. Of that total, the report authorizes $3.4 billion for 19 Air Force variants, $1.1 billion for the Navy variant, and $1.5 billion for the Marine Corps STOVL variant.
UH-60 Black Hawk -- $1.2 billion for 59 Black Hawks for the Army and Guard, equal to the president's request.
MH-60S Knighthawk -- $454 million for 18 Navy Knighthawk helicopters, equal to the budget request. The multi-mission Sikorsky MH-60S is used by the Navy for combat search-and-rescue, special-warfare support and airborne mine countermeasures.
MH-60R Seahawk -- $1.01 billion for 24 Navy Seahawk helicopters, $170 million and five more than the budget request to equip Navy cruisers that are retained as part of the report. The MH-60R features advanced radar, missiles and low frequency sonar.
Connecticut Air National Guard. The final conference report supports an Air Force plan to base eight C-130H cargo aircraft at the 103rd Airlift Wing of the Connecticut Air National Guard at Bradley Airport. In the 2013 budget, the Air Force proposed eliminating the unit's planned mission --the C-27J cargo aircraft -- and assigning it a unit of MC-12 intelligence gathering aircraft as part of a larger reorganization of the Air National Guard. However, that plan was heavily criticized for its unbalanced approach to the Guard, and both the House and Senate versions of the bill froze the plan pending further review. A subsequent plan submitted by the Air Force to Congress on November 2 made substantial changes to their original plan. The conference report allows the Air Force to implement that plan, including the eight C-130H aircraft for the Connecticut Air National Guard, with additional changes meant to augment the airlift capabilities of the Air National Guard as a whole.
No New BRAC. While the 2013 budget request asked for authority to hold two new base closing rounds in 2013 and 2015, the final conference report -- like the House and Senate versions of the bill -- rejects this request and does not provide any new base closing authority. In addition, the conference report expands limitations on the DOD's ability to conduct major installation changes outside of the BRAC process. Specifically, the bill amends current law to require DOD to notify congress of any change that would cause a reduction of more than 1,000 military personnel -- both in direct and indirect reductions of personnel and support services -- as well as requiring additional information on the local economic, strategic and operational implications of any proposed changes. The report also extends the period of time for Congress to review any plan submitted, from 21 days currently to 90 days, before DOD could move forward.
Troops to Teachers. The conference report includes language championed by Congressman Courtney and Congressman Tom Petri (R-WI) to improve the Troops to Teachers program, which supports members of the military who seek opportunities to share their unique STEM and leadership skills in our classrooms. The report includes language reducing service length requirements for participants and expands the number of schools at which participants can teach.
Military Pay Raise. The FY13 NDAA authorizes a 1.7% pay increase and extends bonuses and special pay for our men and women in uniform.
TRICARE Fees. The FY13 NDAA restates the firmly held sense of Congress that access to quality health care services during retirement is a benefit earned though prior service to our nation. The FY13 NDAA rejects Administration proposals to increase some TRICARE fees and establish new TRICARE fees. The FY13 NDAA includes a modest increase in TRICARE pharmacy co-pays in 2013 and a cap on pharmacy co-pays beginning in 2014 that would allow fees to rise by no more than the annual retiree COLA.
Defense Budget Auditability. The conference report Implements recommendations from the HASC Financial Management and Auditability Reform Panel, on which Congressman Courtney served, that will improve execution and management of Department of Defense Enterprise Resource Planning systems.