Senate Defense Policy Bill Would Mean More Than $16 Billion For Connecticut’s Defense Industries
By Julia Bergman
New London Day
June 14 , 2016
The U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed its version of the defense policy bill, which would authorize more than $16 billion for defense-related industries in Connecticut.
The senators will now have to work out differences with their House colleagues before a final version of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act is voted on by the full Congress.
The legislation sets funding levels and outlines spending priorities for the military.
The Obama administration has threatened to veto both versions.
The administration objects to several provisions in the House's version, passed last month, including one that would shift $18 billion from Overseas Contingency Operations funds, the so-called war fund, to pay for day-to-day military programs.
The administration also objects to several provisions in the Senate version, such as restrictions on detainee transfers from the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The House's bill would set defense spending at $610 billion, while the Senate's would set it at $602 billion.
Obama has threatened to veto seven annual authorization bills, according to Defense News.
Last year, he vetoed the defense policy bill, the fifth veto of his presidency, due to debates over using the so-called war fund to increase defense spending without increasing domestic spending, and closing Guantanamo Bay.
A revised plan later was passed and signed by the president.
Last year, defense spending accounted for 16 percent of the total federal budget, and 54 percent of discretionary spending – the portion of the budget over which Congress has control.
The 2017 legislation authorizes:
- $5 billion for Virginia-class submarine construction. Electric Boat and its partner, Newport News Shipbuilding, build the Virginia-class submarines.
- $1.5 billion for the new class of ballistic missile submarines, known as the Ohio-class replacement program. Electric Boat recently was named the prime contractor for the program.
- $8.5 billion for 63 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. Pratt and Whitney is the sole engine maker for the aircraft.
- $929 million for 36 Black Hawk helicopters built by Sikorsky.
- $437 million for the first year of procurement funding for two Marine Corps' new heavy-lift helicopters, the CH-53K, built by Sikorsky.
- $61 million for the Navy MH-60R Naval Hawk helicopter built by Sikorsky.
- $302 million for eight additional HH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, built by Sikorsky, to replace the aging UH-1N helicopters.
- $6.3 million for the construction of a small air terminal at Bradley International Airport for the Connecticut National Guard's 103rd Airlift Wing to support its recent conversion to the C-130 mission.
Both U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., issued statements on the legislation's passage.
"The United States depends on Connecticut to build the subs, engines and helicopters that our military relies on to keep us safe. At the same time, Connecticut depends on a strong manufacturing industry to provide good paying jobs and support the state's economy," Murphy said.
He voted in favor of the bill, despite "some real policy reservations because it's good for Connecticut working families."
Calling it "critical legislation that will enhance our national defense and support our state economy," said Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, "I was proud to help craft this bill, and to fight for provisions that would invest in Connecticut jobs and manufacturing."