Critical investments in helicopters, submarines, & joint strike fighters secured by Blumenthal will support national security & thousands of Connecticut jobs & families
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement on the Senate’s approval of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2024, which includes a number of significant provisions he championed to invest in Connecticut’s defense manufacturing workforce and enhance national security. The bill passed by a vote of 86-11.
“Historic investments in defense platforms made in Connecticut show continued unshakable confidence in our state’s spectacular workforce,” said Blumenthal. “This strongly bipartisan national security support package recognizes threats to America now, and in coming years. Readiness requires investment in advanced technologies—submarines, helicopters, and fighter jets—but also in people, including improved education, skills training, and public health resources necessary for servicemembers and workforce development. Absolutely critical to our own defense is unstinting support for Ukraine’s brave fight against Russia’s barbaric criminal invasion—a cause meriting the funding here. I’m especially proud of the provisions I fought for in honor of Seaman Xavier Sandor, which will provide a Basic Housing Allowance and enhanced mental health services to spare other junior Sailors from abhorrent living conditions. I look forward to President Biden’s signature on this bipartisan measure.”
As a member of the Committee tasked with crafting the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2024, Blumenthal championed the following provisions to increase jobs and support critical industries in Connecticut:
Delivering Impactful Investments to Connecticut’s Submarine Industrial Base: Blumenthal fiercely advocated for broad funding for Connecticut’s submarine industry that guarantees our nation’s strategic advantages in undersea warfare while growing Connecticut’s jobs and economy. Blumenthal secured:
Bolstering Production of Cutting-Edge Helicopters: Blumenthal pushed for strong funding of helicopters, including the CH-53K King Stallion, HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter, UH-60M Black Hawk, and Future Vertical Lift Program. Funding of these programs supports continued investments in Sikorsky helicopters and countless other Connecticut businesses that support the helicopter industrial base. Blumenthal secured:
Increasing our F-35 Fleet: Blumenthal has prioritized the expansion of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the only fifth generation fighter in production, which Connecticut’s Pratt and Whitney is the sole engine-manufacturer of. Blumenthal secured:
Prioritizing Workforce Development: Blumenthal championed a provision that calls for the Department of Defense to leverage existing relationships with the Joint Defense Manufacturing Council to support workforce development. This effort will lead to additional research and development and increase workforce capacity in areas such as supply chain management and contested logistics.
Blumenthal also fought for key provisions to support servicemembers and improve defense policy, including:
Improving Living Conditions for Sailors: Blumenthal fought for inclusion of the Seaman Xavier Sandor Support Act, which would provide new rules, resources, and conditions for sailors when their ships are in for overhaul or refueling. Specifically, the measure would provide Sailors with a Basic Allowance for Housing and enhanced mental health services. The measure is named in honor of Seaman Recruit Xavier Sandor from Shelton, who passed away last year on the USS George Washington while it underwent extended maintenance overhaul in a shipyard.
Increasing Servicemember Pay: Blumenthal championed a 5.2 percent pay increase – the largest in decades – for our servicemembers and DOD civilians to recognize their sacrifice, impact, and contributions to our national defense.
Extending TRICARE Survivor Benefits for Guard and Reserve Families: Blumenthal secured a provision that would extend the timeline for survivor benefits for Guard and Reserve families from the current six-month window to three years. The measure is based on legislation Blumenthal introduced in honor of Sergeant First Class Michael Clark of Bolton, Connecticut, who died during a training exercise in Georgia last year. Under current law, survivors and their families only retain their health benefits for six months following the death of a servicemember. This provision would amend the existing law to provide parity for Guard and Reserve survivor benefits to that of active-duty personnel.
Supporting Medical Care for Wounded Ukrainians: Blumenthal led the charge for language to expand a program established by a Blumenthal-led provision in last year’s NDAA to provide military trauma care for our allies in Ukraine. This provision would support treatment and rehabilitation for Ukrainians suffering from traumatic extremity injuries, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injuries, amputations, and other mental health conditions suffered as a result of Russian aggression.