[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement on the Committee’s approval of its draft of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2017, which includes a number of provisions he advocated for to support our national security and invest in Connecticut’s defense manufacturing community. The bill was reported out of committee yesterday and will now advance to the full Senate for consideration.
“This new defense authorization measure means stronger national security, as well as good jobs and growing workforce opportunities for Connecticut’s manufacturers and skilled employees. I am proud to fight for funding for the critical programs that contribute to keeping our nation safe and bringing jobs to Connecticut,” Blumenthal said. “The Committee’s overwhelming bipartisan approval is a highly significant step, but now our challenge is to secure passage from the full Senate in coming weeks. I will be fighting for the Committee’s bill—which means more helicopters, submarines, and joint strike fighter engines produced in Connecticut—enhancing our national defense and state economy.”
The following list includes provisions Blumenthal championed that will boost jobs and support critical industries with defense contracts in Connecticut, and which were included in the legislation approved by the Committee:
Investing in Connecticut’s Submarine’s Industrial Base: Blumenthal worked to secure $5 billion for two Virginia Class submarines, as well as $1.5 billion for Ohio Replacement Program submarines. Ohio Class – ballistic missile submarines that are particularly valuable because they are the leg of the nuclear triad most likely to survive nuclear conflict – will soon begin to retire. Electric Boat has been selected as the Navy’s prime contractor to build the twelve replacement submarines. For years to come, the talented men and women of the submarine industrial base, particularly at Electric Boat, will carry a heavy workload, keeping good-paying, high-skilled jobs right here in Connecticut.
Funding the Future of the F-35: Connecticut’s Pratt and Whitney is the sole engine-maker for F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. This year’s defense authorization bill includes $8.5 billion for 63 Joint Strike Fighters across the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, and fully meets the President’s budget request. Blumenthal also secured an additional $50.8 million above the President’s request for Marine Corps’ F-35B spares and repair parts, bringing the total funding for spares and repairs to $1.46 billion.
Ensuring Robust Production of Helicopters: Blumenthal fought to ensure that funding in the NDAA met the President’s budget request for $929.3 million for 36 Black Hawks, $437 million for the first year of procurement funding for two Marine Corps’ new heavy-lift helicopters known as the CH-53Ks, as well as $61.2 million of funding for the MH-60R Naval Hawk helicopter which will finish production the coming fiscal year – all made by Sikorsky in Connecticut. Blumenthal also secured an additional $302.3 million for eight additional HH-60 Black Hawks that are to be part of the helicopters that will replace the aging UH-1N helicopters tasked with protecting our intercontinental ballistic missile fields out west. Although the President’s budget request only called for $18 million for this program, as part of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Blumenthal worked to ensure that the Committee considered and accelerated the UH-1N replacement program after hearing from military leaders of the urgent need to replace the ailing helicopters that are operating on national security waivers to provide rapid security protection for our missile sites.
Supporting the Connecticut National Guard: Blumenthal secured $6.3 million in military construction funding for the Small Air Terminal at Bradley International Airport for the Connecticut National Guard. This funding will allow the 103rd Airlift Wing to have the facilities they need to support their recent conversion to the C-130 mission. It will consolidate several Logistics Readiness Squadron functions into one facility, conveniently located adjacent to the flight line to support the new C-130 mission.