Congressman Courtney and the House Armed Services Committee late last night passed the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 1960), which supports continued investment in programs critical to Connecticut's economy and industrial base. Among its provisions, which are detailed below, the bill supports continued two-a-year production of Virginia Class Submarines, ongoing development of the Ohio Replacement Program (ORP) and denies a request for a new base closing round.
"I am pleased that the House Armed Services Committee affixed its bipartisan support once again for continued investment in our submarine construction priorities," said Congressman Courtney. "At a time of uncertainty in our defense budget, the men and women of Electric Boat can take heart in this overwhelming vote of confidence in the cost-effective and national security-bolstering work they do every day for our nation."
"While passage of this bill is good news for Connecticut, I remain deeply concerned about the continued inaction by this Congress in addressing the mounting impact of sequestration," Congressman Courtney added. "Already, this mindless process is undermining our military readiness, forcing a 20 percent pay cut on our defense civilian employees for the rest of the year, and injecting uncertainty into our economy. I remain committed to finding a long term, bipartisan, and balanced way to end sequestration as soon as possible and stop this self-inflicted wound to our economy from growing even wider."
The bill, which was approved in a bipartisan 59-2 vote early this morning, is expected to be considered on the House floor next week.
Below are selected provisions of the bill:
Key Connecticut Programs
Submarine Procurement and Development
· Virginia Class Submarine. The bill supports Congressman Courtney's continuing efforts to secure strong, bipartisan support for a two submarine build rate by authorizing $5.8 billion for the Virginia-class submarine program, including two subs in 2014, and advance procurement funding for two ships planned in 2015. The bill fully supports the upcoming ten boat, five year multiyear contract currently being negotiated by the Navy and Electric Boat.
· Ohio Class Replacement. Authorizes over $1 billion to continue development of the OHIO class ballistic missile submarine replacement.
· Virginia Payload Module. Authorizes $59 million for the continued development of the Virginia Payload Module, which would integrate strike payload capacity for Tomahawk Land Attack and follow on missiles in Block V submarines (FY19-23).
Aircraft and Helicopter Procurement and Development
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The bill authorizes $8.4 billion for 29 F-35 joint strike fighters, including 19 for the Air Force, six for the Marine Corps and four for the Navy. During committee debate, Congressman Courtney opposed an amendment that would have unnecessarily delayed F-35 production by nearly a year, impacting the industrial base and injecting greater uncertainty into the program.'
KC-46 Tanker Replacement. The bill authorizes $1.6 billion for continued development of the KC-46A aerial refueling tanker.
F-100 Engines. The bill increases funding for 25 spare F-100 engines, built by Pratt & Whitney, to fill shortfalls in spares for the F-15 fighter aircraft.
Helicopter procurement and development
· $1.3 billion for 65 Sikorsky Army Black Hawk helicopters, $849 million for 19 Naval
MH-60R helicopters and $455 million for 18 Naval MH-60s helicopters.
· $396 million for the combat rescue helicopter (CRH). The Air Force plans to award the
new Combat Rescue Helicopter in fourth quarter FY 2013, for which Sikorsky is
· $503 million continued development of the CH-53K, a heavy lift helicopter being
developed and tested by Sikorsky for the Marine Corps.
· $94 million for development of the VXX presidential helicopter. Sikorsky is expected to
compete for this program later this year.
Other Key provisions
Denies BRAC Request. The 2014 NDAA specifically rejects the request for a new BRAC round in 2015, and prohibits the Department of Defense from using funds to prepare for a new round. Congressman Courtney strongly opposed the request for a new BRAC round during consideration of the 2014 NDAA, citing growing costs and declining savings from prior rounds.
Excess Equipment from Afghanistan. During debate yesterday, the committee lent bipartisan approval to an amendment offered by Congressman Courtney to require the Department of Defense to develop a plan for making U.S. military equipment that is declared surplus during the drawdown in Afghanistan available to entities here at home that could use them, such as towns and law enforcement agencies. Specifically, the amendment requires DOD to focus on improvements to real-time information sharing with interested parties regarding what equipment might be available, when, where, and in what condition. Congressman Courtney pursued this amendment after seeing drawdown preparations in Afghanistan first hand in March.
Unmanned Cargo Systems. The bill includes language authored by Congressman Courtney requiring the Army to assess the utility of unmanned cargo delivery system to provide supplies to remote operating locations. Kaman, a Connecticut-based company, is working with the Marine Corps to test the K-Max system, an unmanned helicopter that has been successfully deployed for 15 months in Afghanistan. The system has demonstrated the ability to move cargo between remote areas without the need for manned convoys that put our men and women in uniform in harm's way.
C-130 Upgrades. The authorizes additional funds above the budget request for key upgrades to older model C-130H aircraft, which are primarily found in our Air National Guard fleet. Upgrades includes improvements to avionics, cockpit controls, engines and other systems needed to keep these aircraft -- the backbone of our tactical airlift capabilities -- fully operational. The 103rd Airlift Wing of the Connecticut Air National Guard is transitioning to a C-130H mission later this year.
Shipbuilding. The bill authorizes over $15 million for eight new ships, including two Virginia Class submarines, 4 Littoral Combat Ships, a DDG-51 destroyer and a Mobile Landing Platform (MLP), as well as continued construction of the CVN-78 Aircraft Carrier. Congressman Courtney is Vice Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee and co-chairman of the Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus.
Addressing Military Sexual Assault. The 2014 NDAA contains a number of provisions aimed at addressing the growing issue of sexual assault in the military, including reforms that strip commanders of their authority to dismiss a court martial funding, prohibit commanders from reducing sentences, establish minimum sentencing guidelines for sexual assault, and a number of other provisions aimed at supporting victims and holding perpetrators, and the military chain of command, accountable.
Military Pay Raise. Authorizes a 1.8% pay raise for members of the military, a .8% increase over the budget request.
TRICARE Fees. The bill rejects a proposal to increase fees on military retirees who receive coverage through TRICARE.
Increased Oversight of Drone operations. The bill includes a bipartisan provision that codifies congressional oversight of drone strikes and capture missions.