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Blumenthal Secures Wins for Connecticut in National Defense Authorization Bill Advanced by Senate Armed Services Committee

Significant investments in submarines, helicopters, and joint strike fighters fought for by Blumenthal will support national security and thousands of Connecticut jobs

[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 Committee’s approval of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023, which includes a number of significant provisions he championed to invest in Connecticut’s defense manufacturing workforce and enhance national security. The bill passed out of Committee by a vote of 23-3 and will now move to the full Senate for consideration.

“This bipartisan measure makes robust milestone investments in strategic defense to keep our country secure and our state’s economy strong,” said Blumenthal. “Particularly important is the solid, strong support for new submarines, and helicopters—made by the world’s finest workforce here in Connecticut. They are at the core of our commitment to national defense in a deeply dangerous world. This measure also advances significant support to Ukraine, which I championed, providing arms to defend against Russia’s brutal assault. I will push for swift passage by the full Congress.”

As a member of the Committee tasked with crafting the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2023, Blumenthal championed the following provisions to boost jobs and support critical industries with defense contracts in Connecticut:

Delivering Substantial Investments to Connecticut’s Submarine Industrial Base: Blumenthal fought 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:

  • $5.849 billion to fund ongoing design and construction of the Columbia Class ballistic missile submarine, including $531 million for the submarine industrial base workforce development, and $130 million for supplier development, supplier infrastructure, and technology advancements that assist the growing demand for investment in these assets.
  • $4.534 billion to fully fund two Virginia Class submarines and over $2.02 billion in advanced procurement that will fund future boats. An additional $207 million in industrial base analysis and sustainment support that will ensure continued growth for the submarine industrial base. Robust funding of $1.04 billion in acoustic, communication, and support equipment necessary to support today’s submarine fleet with advanced combat control and undersea warfare capabilities. 
  • Over $1 billion in additional submarine research and development, including $496 million to fund New Design SSN, $335 million for Columbia research, development, test, and evaluation, and $105 million in advanced submarine system development that will continue innovations in Virginia, Columbia, and future submarines.

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 ensures the health of Sikorsky helicopters and countless other Connecticut businesses that support the helicopter industrial base. Blumenthal secured:

  • $1.919 billion to fund a total of 12 CH-53K King Stallion Helicopters, which includes $250 million over the President’s Budget for 2 additional CH-53Ks
  • $1.057 billion in procurement funding for 20 HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopters, which includes $350 million over the President’s budget for an additional 10 HH-60Ws
  • $58 million for HH-60W capability upgrades and modernization developments
  • $650.4 million to fund 25 UH-60M Black Hawk Helicopters
  • $68 million in UH-60M advanced procurement funding
  • $178.6 million to fund 28 UH-60L and UH-60V Black Hawk Helicopters
  • An additional $23 million over the President’s budget for the development of the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft

Blumenthal also fought to secure Block Buying Authority of the CH-53K, which will result in significant savings compared to the total anticipated costs of carrying out the program through annual contracts.

Growing our F-35 Fleet: Blumenthal pushed for funding to expand the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program. Connecticut’s Pratt and Whitney is the sole engine-manufacturer for the only fifth generation fighter in production. Blumenthal secured:

  • $7.859 billion for 68 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters across the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, which includes $858 million above the President’s budget for 7 additional F-35As
  • $1.006 billion in F-35 advance procurement funding

Ensuring Smart and Safe Investments in Future F-35 Propulsion: Blumenthal secured a provision requiring an assessment of F-35 engine modernization efforts. Blumenthal’s provision requires the Department of Defense (DOD) to analyze the cost of alternative engines designed for the Adaptive Engine Transition Program to ensure that the modernization of the F-135 engine safely meets Block 4 upgrade requirements, timelines, and minimizes life cycle costs. 

Prioritizing Workforce Development and Stability: Blumenthal worked to secure the Navy Workforce Shipbuilding Development Initiative that requires any awarded contract to include workforce development. This effort will provide government and private matching contributions that can be used for the creation of housing, transportation, and support services for worker relocation and retention, expansion of local talent pipeline programs, investments in outreach to middle and high school programs, attraction and retention bonuses, facilities dedicated to workforce development, and on-the-job training for key manufacturing skills. 

Strengthening Strategic Manufacturing Capabilities: Blumenthal championed and secured a provision directing a cost benefit analysis of clean and efficient domestic titanium production. This provision encourages public and private sector cooperation in establishing titanium production facilities in the United States, vital to long-term security of strategic supply chains. 

Supporting our National Guard: Blumenthal supported a provision requiring a report on the Air Force’s plan to ensure that the most advanced Air National Guard engine maintenance training assets will be distributed across the states in preparation for transitioning to future C-130Js.  

Additionally, he fought for an amendment to backdate the effective date of rank for reserve officers in the National Guard due to undue delays in Federal recognition. This measure ensures that our National Guardsmen receive the recognition and compensation they deserve regardless of delays outside of their control.  

Funding Next-Generation Night Vision Systems: Blumenthal fought to secure $75 million to continue the production of the Enhanced Night Vision Goggle-Binocular to provide cutting edge night vision systems to our soldiers. The continuation of this funding prevents unnecessary gaps in next-generation night vision system procurement and prioritizes soldier safety.

Blumenthal fought for provisions to advance our national security abroad, particularly assistance for Ukrainian defense as the country defends itself from Russia’s aggression and the replenishment of our stockpiles at home, including:

  • Extending the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) and authorizing $800 million in fiscal year 2023 to provide security assistance to Ukraine via this authority
  • An additional $100 million to increase production of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, a top Ukrainian artillery request to curtail Russian advances
  • An additional $200 million for Javelin missile and $200 million for Stinger missile production increases to replenish US stockpiles given to Ukrainians to defend themselves

Enabling Humanitarian De-mining Assistance for Ukraine: Blumenthal fought for a provision to cut administrative red tape currently preventing enhanced international cooperation on humanitarian de-mining in Ukraine. This provision provides new authorities for the U.S. to assist in training Ukrainians on humanitarian demining and decrease the devastating number of civilian casualties due to land mines.

Supporting Accountable Security Assistance to Ukraine: Blumenthal supported a provision directing a review of allocations and use of security assistance provided to Ukraine. This measure assesses the timeliness of U.S. assistance, how the DOD is tracking equipment, and to what extent DOD is mitigating the proliferation of equipment provided. 

Calling for a Black Sea Strategy: Blumenthal championed a provision directing the development of a comprehensive strategy on the posture, security cooperation, and military-to-military engagement in the Black Sea region critical to bolstering the region amid the war in Ukraine. Recognizing the devastating effects of the current war on the Ukrainian economy, global food crisis, and freedom of navigation, Blumenthal’s insistence on a whole-of-government approach to the region is prudent and necessary.

Promoting Information Sharing on the Wagner Group: Blumenthal fought for a provision encouraging the DOD to publically release information and share intelligence with allies and partners in Africa on the malign activities of the Wagner Group.  Russia’s state sponsorship of the Wagner Group and other private military companies destabilizes countries throughout Africa and the Middle East and requires increased information-sharing to support allies and partners in these regions. 

Backing Israel with Robust Support: Blumenthal fought to fully fund our commitments to the security of Israel. Blumenthal also supported the extension of U.S.-Israeli cooperation on countering unmanned aerial vehicles in recognition of the growing threat posed by Iran and their proxies. Recognizing the need to promote deeper cooperation within the region, Blumenthal supported a provision directing plans to promote and expand defense-industrial-base partnerships between the United States, Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates to address our shared operational threats. Blumenthal also supported an amendment requiring an expansion on the annual report on the military power of Iran to specifically analyze the threat posed by the Houthis, Kata’ib Hezbollah and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq. 

Keeping a Spotlight on our Commitment to Afghan Allies: Blumenthal championed a provision to recognize at-risk Afghans who fled Afghanistan via private charter between September 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021 who qualify for the administration’s coordinated response but still remain in third countries today. The measure also recognizes the veteran service organizations, veterans, non-governmental organizations, and private citizens who joined together to assist in the evacuation and resettlement efforts and urges DOD to examine the feasibility of partnering with or providing grants to these organizations to continue these evacuation and support efforts. 

Blumenthal also fought for key provisions to support servicemembers, including:

Continuing Reforms to Support Survivors of Military Sexual Assault: Blumenthal fought for the inclusion of the Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act and other reforms to the Uniform Code of Military Justice including:

  • Changing the convening authority from the Commanding Officer to an unbiased Judge Advocate for an additional 17 offenses that are common-law felonies in most states;
  • Providing a Restricted Reporting Option for DOD Civilian employees choosing to report sexual assault;
  • Further implementation of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military requiring the convening authority of a court martial to randomize the selection of members of the panel; and
  • Requiring the Department of Defense to distribute information on the availability of resources from civilian legal service organizations to military-connected sexual assault victims.

Protecting Servicemembers and Their Families from Exposure to Harmful Chemicals like PFAS: Blumenthal fought for key funding and provisions to protect servicemembers from toxic chemical exposure, including:

  • $20 million for an ongoing Centers for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC) health assessment of all DOD facilities and bases related to contaminated sources of drinking water from PFAS to ensure servicemembers are not consuming water contaminated with these harmful forever chemicals;
  • Extending the authorization and funding for ongoing studies and assessment on human health impacts of PFAS in drinking water by the CDC;
  • Requiring DOD to publish a description of any research collaboration relating to the health effects of perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl substances, treatment options, and associated budget information on a website to ensure it is easily accessible to the public;
  • Prohibiting DOD from procuring or purchasing personal protective firefighting equipment if it contains any perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl substances; and
  • Allowing state-owned National Guard facilities to qualify for funding through the Defense Environmental Restoration Program to reduce exposure to hazardous substances.

Supporting Servicemember-to-Veteran Transitions: Blumenthal supported a comprehensive review of DOD’s current processes to support servicemembers transitioning to civilian life to ensure that the Department consistently screens for suicide risk, addresses the referral process for those with unique barriers to transition, and ensures servicemembers are connected to additional resources provided by partner agencies. Greater support for servicemembers will help ensure that those who have sacrificed so much already do not slip through the cracks as they transition to civilian life.

Supporting Women Warriors: Blumenthal secured $66.8 million to accelerate development of armor for female servicemembers to improve form, fit, and function, as well as to reduce pain and increase mobility. As women join the armed services in growing numbers, this funding will ensure more body armor options are available for female servicemembers to improve comfort and security in the battlefield. This provision is based on bipartisan legislation Blumenthal co-sponsored to ensure body armor and personal protective equipment (PPE) is adequate, properly-fitted, and readily available for female servicemembers.

Increasing Servicemember Pay: Blumenthal championed a 4.6 percent pay increase for our servicemembers and DOD civilians to recognize their sacrifice and impact of their contributions to our national defense.

Fighting Food Insecurity in Military Families:  Blumenthal fought for an expansion of the reach and impact of the Basic Needs Allowance by increasing the eligibility threshold and allowance size from 130 percent of the Federal poverty line to 150 percent of the Federal poverty line. 

Expanding Healthcare for Servicemembers and their Families: Blumenthal secured significant improvements to TRICARE Dental to give eligible beneficiaries additional enrollment options in dental insurance plans. Certain enlisted members will also pay reduced premiums and co-payments under this provision.