Conference Report on H.R. 2810, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018by Representative Joe Courtney
Posted on 2017-11-14
COURTNEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 2810, and
I want to begin by congratulating Chairman Thornberry and Ranking
Member Smith for their really skillful bipartisan guidance of this
The vote that took place last summer when the House passed it the first time through was the largest bipartisan vote, since 2008, for an NDAA, and that didn't happen by accident. It was because of their great work.
I also want to thank my colleague, Mr. Wittman, on the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee. It is a very bipartisan effort, and the result, I think, really demonstrates that, when you do it that way, you get good results.
I also want to congratulate the staff, Dave Sienicki, Phil MacNaughton, and also Lieutenant Commander Dominic Kramer, a Navy fellow who is here today. Their support and work were invaluable in terms of getting the seapower portion of the bill to the really solid place that it is today.
Again, last year, 2016, the Navy came forward with a force structure assessment that said: Based on national security needs around the world, our fleet size needs to grow. When the President's budget came over last May, unfortunately, there were only eight new ships in that budget; but our committee, again, showing its independence as a coequal branch of government, produced a seapower mark that boosted that build rate to 15 and, again, has us now on a pathway to achieve the goal that the Navy identified last year.
In particular, in terms of the undersea fleet, our combatant commanders, whether it is an Asia-Pacific or a European command, have been loudly warning Congress that we should not allow the decline in the fleet size to occur.
This bill, again, authorizes $5.9 billion for the Virginia-class submarine program and provides multiyear procurement authority to enter into a contract for 13 Virginia-class, allowing for a build rate to move from two a year to three fast-attack submarines in 2020, 2022, and 2023.
The National Sea Based Deterrence Fund, which, again, our committee created in 2014, extends continuous production authorities which the Navy has told us will save $383 million in the Columbia-class program, which, again, is about smart procurement, which Mr. Smith referred to at the beginning.
Again, there are other provisions in the bill that I would just note. There was no BRAC that is authorized in this bill. We also gave authority to the United States as part of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative to provide medical treatment to wounded Ukrainian soldiers, as well as training to Ukrainian healthcare specialists, which our allies desperately need. Again, it is a very, I think, smart move by the committee.
Mr. Speaker, as has been noted, this is the 57th year in a row that we have produced an NDAA. It is because we follow regular order. It is because we respect both sides of the aisle in terms of the contribution that they make.
We still have meat left on the bone to get the 2018 spending bill done, and hopefully the example that Mr. Thornberry and Mr. Smith set in terms of allowing the process to breathe is the way we are going to get to a successful result, just as we did with 2017.
Again, I want to congratulate the leadership of our committee, and I strongly urge all the Members on both sides of the aisle to support passage of this measure.