Connecticut’s Defense Industry Well-Supported In Proposed Federal Appropriations
By Julia Bergman
New London Day
April 30, 2015
Connecticut's defense industry is well-supported in proposed federal legislation that sets the policies and guidelines for how defense appropriations will be spent in 2016, according to U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District.
It was a long day Tuesday for Courtney and other members of the House Armed Services Committee. Members worked early into the morning on Wednesday to mark up and approve the draft National Defense Authorization Act for 2016, which fully supports the two submarine build rate for the Virginia-class attack submarine and the continued development of the Virginia Payload Module, an 80-foot section with four large-diameter payload tubes in the center of the Virginia-class boats.
The module is being developed to replace the undersea strike capabilities lost when the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines retire in the 2020s. The committee is concerned with the Navy's plan, as submitted in the 2016 budget request, to incorporate the module into new submarines at a rate of one a year starting in 2019.
"This rate would meet only two-thirds of the validated need for the module and the capabilities it adds to future Virginia-class submarines," says the news release from Courtney's office.
The committee is urging the Navy to fully incorporate the module into boats in 2019 and beyond.
Courtney, the ranking member of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, said in a statement that "the proposal also expands on the bipartisan work I did last year in creating the National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund. This year's bill not only directs $1.4 billion into the fund, but also provides a range of new authorities and tools to the Navy to develop and construct these new submarines in the most efficient and thoughtful way possible."
The deterrence fund would be a separate fund outside of the Navy's shipbuilding budget to support the Ohio-class replacement program, a new class of 12 ballistic missile submarines to replace the Navy's current force of 14 Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines.
For at least four years now, Courtney and other members of the subcommittee have talked about establishing this separate fund to relieve constraints on the regular shipbuilding account. The separate account was established by law as a result of the passage of the 2015 authorization act, but was not immediately funded.
The press release from Courtney's office explains that the 2016 legislation "clarifies that reprogramming authority provided in the creation of the fund last year extends to the entire Defense Department, not just the Navy."
Here are the specifics of the 2016 authorization act draft as they pertain to Connecticut, according to Courtney's office:
- The proposal includes $5.3 billion for Virginia-class submarine construction, including $3.3 billion for two submarines in 2016 and $2 billion for advanced procurement of additional submarines in 2017 and beyond.
- It includes $168 million for the development of the Virginia Payload Module.
- It includes $1.4 billion for continued research and development of the Ohio-class replacement program and directs these funds into the deterrence fund.
The approval by the committee is just the start in deciding the defense budget for 2016. House Republicans will ultimately decide when the House takes up the authorization act for a vote, but that is expected to happen later in the spring.
The Senate Armed Services Committee is currently working on its own version of the legislation.