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Blumenthal Statement On Final Passage Of Defense Authorization

(Washington, D.C.) - U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Airland Subcommittee, today released the following statement upon final passage in an 89-11 vote of the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which sets policy and spending levels for the Department of Defense.

“Today’s vote is a victory for our nation and for Connecticut—for Coltsville, for our state’s proud defense industry, for our men and women in uniform who serve and sacrifice for our country, and for our national security. This landmark bill will expand jobs here and nationwide through smart, sustained investment in Connecticut’s industrial base, which continues to produce the most advanced, capable weapon systems available worldwide.

“Today’s vote means workers at Electric Boat will continue to build two Virginia-class submarines a year, workers at Pratt & Whitney will build the engines for more than 30 Joint Strike Fighters, and workers at Sikorsky will build more than 100 helicopters to ensure that our servicemen and women have the best equipment in the world.

“Additionally today’s vote brings new critical protections for victims of military sexual assault and an enhanced role for mental health professionals to ensure the fair treatment of military personnel during discharge and dismissal processes. Today’s vote also brings expansion of the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa program to allow Afghans who bravely served as interpreters and translators alongside our servicemen and women the opportunities they deserve to relocate and escape harm and retribution in their homeland. These are provisions I helped to lead, and I am proud of their inclusion in this comprehensive measure.”

The measure supports the following priority programs that Blumenthal fought to support: 

 The bill establishes a new unit of the National Park System within the Coltsville Historic District

  • The bill authorizes $5.9 billion for the procurement of two Virginia-class submarines. Additionally, $1.3 billion is authorized for further research and development into the Ohio-class replacement program. 
  • The bill will authorize $5.9 billion in total funding for the continued development of the Joint Strike Fighter program, to include the acquisition of 34 JSF aircraft, powered by Pratt & Whitney engines. Specifically, the bill includes funding for 26 F-35As for the Air Force, six F-35Bs for the Marine Corps, and two Navy F-35Cs.
  • The bill will authorize over $2.4 billion in funding to procure Sikorsky helicopters, to include 85 UH-60 Black Hawks, 29 MH-60R Seahawks and 8 MH-60S Knighthawks.  This represents a budget request increase of $103 million to procure six additional UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters in order to modernize the Army National Guard.  Additionally, the budget authorizes an additional $573 million in research and development of the Marine Corps CH-53K heavy-lift helicopter.
  • The bill authorizes $351 million for the Iron Dome missile defense system.
  • The bill authorizes $37.3 million for M4 carbines to support the Kurdish and Iraqi security forces combat ISIL. 
  • The bill authorizes $16.3 million for a C-130 Fuel and Corrosion Center at Bradley Air National Guard Base in Connecticut.
  • The bill prohibits the retirement of the U-2 reconnaissance aircraft.