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Blumenthal Applauds Senate Passage of Final Defense Legislation

Blumenthal secured robust investments in submarines, helicopters, and joint strike fighters to support national security and Connecticut jobs as a member of Senate Armed Services Committee and House-Senate Conference Committee

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) applauded the passage of the final National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021. As a member of the Senate Armed Service Committee and the House-Senate Conference Committee, Blumenthal fought for key provisions to invest in Connecticut’s defense manufacturing workforce and enhance national security.

“I was proud to cast my vote for this defense bill along with a veto-proof majority of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle – an overwhelming bipartisan show of support for our troops and country.”

“This bill’s surge of investment in strategic defense tools built in Connecticut – state-of-the-art aircraft, submarines, and helicopters – will give our troops the support they need to keep our country secure and strengthen our state’s economy. Securing funding for two Virginia Class submarines is a major win. The dedication and supreme skill of our Connecticut manufacturing force has made our state the hub of excellence for our nation’s defense industry and this robust investment will keep it thriving. I am proud to have fought for funding to support thousands of high-quality jobs in Connecticut and to provide our great armed forces with unmatched resources to keep our nation and themselves safe.”

“This legislation also brings major relief to thousands of veterans exposed to Agent Orange and I am honored to have fought for this provision,Blumenthal said.

As a member of the Committee tasked with crafting the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2021, Blumenthal championed the following provisions to boost jobs and support critical industries with defense contracts in Connecticut:

Making Strong Investments in Connecticut’s Submarine Industrial Base: Blumenthal fought for robust submarine funding to fortify our undersea superiority and grow Connecticut jobs. Blumenthal secured:

  • $2.891 billion to fully fund the first Columbia Class ballistic missile submarine, the boat that will modernize the most survivable leg of the nuclear triad and replace the Ohio Class of ballistic missile submarines.
  • $1.298 billion in advance procurement for the Columbia Class, including an additional $130 million above the President’s budget request to invest in submarine supplier development. This funding will support the health of Connecticut submarine suppliers who provide vital services, material, and expertise to both the Columbia and Virginia Class programs.
  • $4.620 billion to fully fund two Virginia Class submarines, restoring the cut in the President’s budget request, and over $2.173 billion in advance procurement that will fund future boats, including long lead material to preserve the option for 10 Virginia Class submarines in the Block V contract.
  • Robust funding of the future of undersea warfare, including over $250 million to fund New Design SSN research, $149.188 million in advanced Nuclear Power Systems, and over $317 million to fund Ohio Replacement New Design research. These funds will support the ongoing research, development, testing, and evaluation necessary for the Columbia program to remain on schedule for its first deterrent patrol in 2031, and allow Connecticut companies like Electric Boat to continue to produce submarines that maintain the qualitative military edge.

Funding the Future of the F-35: Blumenthal fought to fully fund the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program as Connecticut’s Pratt and Whitney is the sole engine-manufacturer for the only fifth generation fighter in production. The bill includes more than $8.732 billion for 93 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters across the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, including an additional 14 aircraft above the President’s budget request (60 F-35A fighters, 10 F-35B fighters, and 23 F-35C fighters). Additionally, Blumenthal secured $610 million in F-35A Advance Procurement funding, $785 million in F-35A Continuous Capability Development and Delivery and $2.228 billion in Spare and Repair Parts, including an additional $30 million above the President’s budget.

Ensuring Robust Production of Helicopters: Blumenthal pushed for strong funding of helicopters, including the CH-53K King Stallion, UH-60M Black Hawk, VH-92A Presidential Executive Helicopter, Combat Rescue Helicopter Program, and Future Vertical Lift Program. Funding of these programs ensures the health of Sikorsky helicopters and countless other Connecticut businesses that support the helicopter industrial base. Blumenthal secured:

  • $800.634 million to fund 7 CH-53K King Stallion Helicopters, and over $406.406 million in research, development, test & evaluation funding.
  • $725.298 million to fund 21 UH-60M and 15 HH-60M Black Hawk Helicopters.
  • $1.147 billion in procurement funding for 19 Combat Rescue Helicopters.
  • $589.042 million to fund 5 VH-92A Executive Helicopters.
  • $652.937 million to fund Future Vertical Lift Research, Development, Test & Evaluation efforts.
  • $63.169 million to fund Combat Rescue Helicopter development and demonstration.

Prioritizing Work Force Development and Stability: Blumenthal secured $20 million to support workforce development and fund investments in the submarine construction workforce training pipeline to support increased hiring needs. It is projected that over the next decade the submarine shipbuilding industry must hire at least 18,000 new skilled workers to support the production of the Columbia and Virginia Class submarines. In addition, Blumenthal championed authorization for Navy contract authority for up to 2 Columbia Class submarines and incremental funding for payments under this contract to ensure cost efficiencies. This authority will help reduce uncertainty among Connecticut’s defense industrial base and help stabilize the workforce.

Establishing a Joint Department of Labor and Navy Task Force on Shipbuilding Workforce: Blumenthal authored a provision creating a Workforce Task Force through the Navy and Department of Labor to assess trends within the shipbuilding workforce, ensure shipbuilders can benefit from existing Department of Labor programs, and provide recommendations to stabilize the shipbuilding industrial base. Together, the funding in workforce development and this provision will ensure that the submarine workforce has the training and education necessary to build a qualified and motivated workforce, with the ability to deliver submarines at the rate required by our nation.

Expanding Opportunities for Partnerships between the Department of Defense and Connecticut Research Institutions: Blumenthal fought to expand opportunities for coordination between Department of Defense research requirements and Connecticut’s talented research universities. Blumenthal secured:

  • $10 million above the President’s budget request in funding for Undersea Warfare Applied research for submarine research partnerships between the Navy and academia. This funding will enhance collaboration between the Navy, the University of Connecticut, and Electric Boat – to translate technological advances to emerging Navy undersea vehicles and systems in cost effective ways, to train a highly skilled workforce, and to support increased and sustained submarine production capacity.
  • $20 million above the President’s budget request in funding for the Defense Established Program to Simulate Competitive Research (DEPSCOR) program in an effort to expand the base of Universities that support defense research and innovative missions.
  • $103.280 million to provide additional competitive grant opportunities for the University of Connecticut and other academic-industry partnerships to develop advanced materials and materials manufacturing processes for the Air Force’s next generation of aerospace materials for hypersonic flight.

Making Strong Investments in Research and Development of Next Generation Military Technology: Blumenthal fought to include more than $6 billion in funding to support investment, research, and development including:

  • Almost $1 billion to fund Next Generation Air Dominance research and development and $666 million to fund the Adaptive Engine Transition Program, including $30 million above the President’s budget request. These funds will support Connecticut’s Raytheon Technologies Corporation and Pratt & Whitney’s efforts to design, fabricate, integrate, and test flight-weight adaptive engines for the next generation of combat aircraft.
  • $95 million to fund the F119 Aircraft Engine Component Improvement Program and over $648 million in funding for Air Force F-22A Squadrons and Operational Systems Development. The F119 powers the F-22A 5th generation fighter and these investments support Connecticut’s United Technologies Raytheon Technologies Corporation’s effort to mature adaptive engine technologies and improve the F119 engine program to increase safety and reduce life cycle costs.
  • $124 million to fund Army research and development of command, control, communications, and intelligence, including $2 million above the President’s budget request to fund quantum computing technology.

Blumenthal also fought for provisions to protect servicemembers and veterans, and to combat human trafficking:

Ensuring Benefits for Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange: For years, Blumenthal has fought for benefits for veterans who suffer from conditions relating to toxic exposure during their service. This year’s NDAA includes legislation that Blumenthal cosponsored, the Fair Care for Vietnam Veterans Act (S.4444). It will ensure that Bladder Cancer, Hypothyroidism, and Parkinsonism – which have been scientifically proven to have an association with exposure to Agent Orange – will now be recognized as presumptively connected to Agent Orange exposure, allowing thousands of veterans to receive the VA care and benefits they earned.

PFAS Free Military Purchasing: This year’s NDAA includes a Blumenthal authorized measure that will prohibit the Department of Defense from acquiring items that contain toxic PFAS chemicals commonly found in food service ware, cookware, carpets, rugs, and upholstered furniture. PFAS exposure has been linked to a number of serious health conditions, including cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility, and increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease. This provision will reduce exposure of servicemembers and their families to harmful PFAS chemicals.

Increase Funding to Study PFAS Contamination in Drinking Water: This NDAA provision, which Blumenthal cosponsored, would increase the funding by $5 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study related to PFAS contamination in drinking water.

The Female Body Armor Modernization Act: This year’s NDAA includes the Female Body Armor Modernization Act, bipartisan legislation that Blumenthal authored with U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-IA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). This provision requires that the Pentagon expedite the fielding of a new generation of personal protective equipment (PPE) that will better fit and protect all servicemembers, particularly women. It also authorizes a tracking system and survey questions to determine the prevalence of preventable injuries servicemembers experience that are attributable to ill-fitting PPE. This provision is critical to ensure that women servicemembers have proper-fitting body armor and personal protective equipment.

LIFT Act: This year’s NDAA includes the bipartisan, bicameral Leveraging Information on Foreign Traffickers (LIFT) Act, legislation Blumenthal led with U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) to combat modern day slavery. This bill supports survivor-centered efforts to monitor and prevent trafficking, and improves the U.S. Department of State’s ability to gather information on this crime. U.S. Representatives Michael McCaul (R-TX) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) led this legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.