U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a senior member of both the Armed Services and Appropriations committees, says key Rhode Island-related projects are set to receive federal funding under bipartisan defense legislation that is making its way through the United States Senate.
Today, the Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies (MilCon-VA), of which Senator Reed is a member, advanced a plan to invest over $18 million on military construction projects in Newport and North Kingstown in fiscal year 2014. This follows recent action by the Senate Armed Services Committee, which last week voted 23-3 to advance the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA authorizes $625 billion to help maintain a strong, flexible military while providing critical support for U.S. troops and their families, and includes a number of key provisions that were sponsored by Senator Reed.
As the Chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower, Reed authored key sections of the NDAA designed to strengthen our nation's naval readiness and boost submarine manufacturing, which is a vital part of Rhode Island's defense industry. Reed helped ensure the 2014 Defense Authorization bill includes full funding for the continuation of two Virginia-class submarines, which is critical given the cost savings achieved, the efficiencies gained in the production schedule, and the projected shortfall in attack submarines in the next decade.
"I am pleased to have worked closely with Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) to move this defense budget proposal forward and make smart investments in our national security," said Reed. "Submarines' unique capability for stealth, strike capacity, and their ability to deliver special forces personnel into difficult environments make them an extremely effective force multiplier and deterrent to our adversaries. And as our strategy focuses more on the Asia Pacific region, it is vital we have a robust submarine fleet. This legislation authorizes full funding for the continuation of the Virginia-class submarine. The Virginia-class submarine is a critical component of our national defense capabilities, and Rhode Island plays an important role in its construction."
The NDAA includes several key provisions backed by Senator Reed, including authorizing:
$5.8 billion for the Virginia-class submarine program, including two submarines in 2014, and advance procurement funding for two ships planned in 2015. The bill supports the upcoming ten boat, five year multi-year contract currently being negotiated by the Navy and Electric Boat.
$1 billion to continue development of the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine replacement.
$59 million for the continued research and development of the Virginia Payload Module.
$5 million in Impact Aid for schools with military dependent children with severe disabilities.
Reed also backed two Rhode Island projects in the NDAA that were also approved by the Appropriations MilCon-VA Subcommittee today:
$12.4 million to renovate Hewitt Hall at the Naval War College in Newport, including upgrading library space into a more modern military learning center.
$6 million for a C-130J Flight Simulator Training Facility at Quonset State Airport in North Kingstown. This project will construct a flight simulator facility to train aircrews to fly the eight C-130J aircraft assigned to this installation.
Other key provisions Reed supported in the NDAA include:
Pay Raise for Service Members: Authorizes a 1 percent across-the-board pay raise for all members of the uniformed services, consistent with the President's request.
Sexual Assault Reform: Amends the Uniform Code of Military Justice to help prevent sexual assaults and more strongly punish offenders. The bill requires mandatory reviews of cases that commanders do not choose to prosecute and enhances whistleblower protections to help increase the ability of servicemembers to report unwanted sexual contact without fear of retribution.
Restores Readiness to Operations and Maintenance Accounts Cut by Sequester: The bill restores $1.8 billion in critical funding to restore cuts from sequester to the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force. These funds are critical for restoring readiness, funding training, and other critical resources to prepare for overseas operations.
Now that the NDAA has been approved by the Armed Services Committee, it must be debated and voted on by the full Senate.
The MilCon-VA bill is scheduled to be voted on by the full Appropriations Committee on Thursday, and then it too must be approved by the full Senate.
Both bills must also be reconciled with versions passed by the full U.S. House of Representatives before they can be signed into law.