U.S. Senator Angus King (I-ME), a member of the Armed Services Committee, today applauded the completed markup of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2014. The Armed Services Committee voted 23-3, with Senator King's support, to report the bill to the Senate floor. The comprehensive piece of legislation authorizes funding for the Department of Defense and the national security programs of the Department of Energy.
Included in the bill are provisions that support members of the military and their families, provide for national defense programs and initiatives, and combat sexual assault in the military. The King-backed amendment on sexual assault represents the strongest effort ever undertaken by Congress to address the epidemic.
Senator King also secured several victories for Maine during the markup of the bill, including:
NO NEW BRAC ROUND: Senator King, along with his colleagues on the committee, rejected the President's call in his Fiscal Year 2014 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.
STUDY BERRY AMENDMENT COMPLIANT SHOES: Senator King inserted language that directs the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center to conduct a study of domestically-produced athletic footwear, like that produced at New Balance's factories throughout Maine, to determine whether the Department of Defense's needs could be satisfied for new recruits. The Berry Amendment, passed by Congress in 1941, requires that U.S. soldiers wear and use American-made materials to the greatest extent possible. The Department of Defense purchases American-made combat boots, service shoes, and nearly every other uniform type in bulk for initial entry recruit. However, it provides vouchers to new recruits for the purchase of athletic footwear, without any preference to domestically manufactured products. The study that Senator King pushed will require the Army to recognize Berry-compliant manufacturers and determine if their athletic footwear meets the needs of entry-level recruits by examining the size and fit, as well as the cost, capacity, and quality.
AUTHORIZE ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR DDG-51: Senator King worked closely with Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the Chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower, to secure language that provides statutory authority for a $100 million funding increase to help procure the fifth option DDG-51 Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer. Earlier this month the Navy awarded Bath Iron Works a $2.8 billion multi-year procurement contract to build four DDG-51s with the option for a fifth ship if the necessary funding could be secured. Across-the-board budget reductions resulting from sequestration prevented the fifth ship from being fully funded.
Senator King said:
"As a new member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I am proud to complete my first markup of the National Defense Authorization Act. I applaud my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, particularly Chairman Levin and Ranking Member Inhofe, for their leadership and hard work on the bill. In its entirety, the legislation contains cost-efficient provisions that support our brave servicemen and women as well as their families, provides for our national defense, and advances the most robust approach to date to combat sexual assault in the military.
"I'm also tremendously pleased by the work that was done on behalf of Maine in the NDAA markup process. The Committee's rejection of another proposed BRAC round is welcome news to the hardworking men and women of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, as well as those at other defense facilities across the state, who no longer have to worry about the threat of another BRAC round for the foreseeable future.
"The Committee also made progress for domestic athletic footwear manufacturers, like New Balance, where some of the highest-quality footwear in the United States is produced. For far too long, the Defense Department has not adhered to the intention of the Berry Amendment, and the language included in the bill directs the Army's principal testing center to conduct a study on American-made footwear to determine if they meet the needs of our entry-level recruits."
"Additionally, the $100 million authorized in the NDAA will move the Navy closer to our shared goal of building the option ship awarded to Bath Iron Works earlier this month. I will continue to work vigorously with the leadership of the Navy and my colleagues in the Senate to enable the Navy to procure the fifth ship, which would mean stable jobs for Mainers and a stronger naval fleet for our military."