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Mr. COURTNEY. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 and, again, I want to congratulate the chairman and the ranking member and the committee staff for a process that was really a breath of fresh air in this Congress--a long meeting, lots of hot debates and passionate debates, many opportunities, frankly, for the polarization that seems to dominate this Congress to break down the process.
But at the end of the day, we had a strong vote, 59-2, obviously very bipartisan, and we came together as a committee to make sure that core functions of the government, our national defense are, in fact, going to be advanced. In particular, I want to focus for a moment on the bipartisan effort made in the Seapower and Projection Force Subcommittee to support our Nation's shipbuilding priorities.
This bill supports the President's budget request for continued projection of two Virginia-class submarines in 2014, building on our efforts last year to restore a boat that had been removed from the shipbuilding plan. This measure also continues investment in critical undersea capabilities, such as the replacement of our SSBN fleet and the Virginia Payload Module.
In particular, and also, the bill supports construction of eight battle force ships, four littoral combat ships, a DDG 51 destroyer, as well as continued work on a new aircraft carrier and vital seapower programs. To put that in context, the build rate in 2006 was only four battle force ships; in 2008, it was only three battle force ships.
As we have heard firsthand in our subcommittee, a stable, predictable, and robust shipbuilding plan is the best way to ensure that our taxpayers are getting cost-effective ships with the block grant fixed price model that is producing ships ahead of schedule and below price. I know this is an issue that our panel will continue to look at closely as we move forward.
In 2011, in Libya, we saw firsthand the value of a strong Naval force, where Operation Odyssey Dawn used seapower to wipe out the air defense system of Muammar Qadhafi. Again, using surface ships and submarines firing Tomahawk missiles, in a matter of hours we had advanced the cause for our NATO allies to finish up the work. So this is, again, critical to the refocus of our naval and strategic plan in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.
Again, we need a strong shipbuilding plan and naval force structure, which this bill will provide strong resources, again, far greater than in past years.
So, again, I want to close by saluting the chairman's tremendous work and our staff, in terms of making sure that both sides of the aisle came together to protect core functions of our government, which, again, the Seapower Subcommittee, in particular, will advance.
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