One of the fundamental duties of the federal government is to "provide for the common defense." As a member of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), I work every day to ensure we take that duty seriously and that the members of our Armed Forces are supported as they do the difficult job we ask them to do.
Last week, the HASC advanced the major bill through which Congress provides for the defense of our nation. This bill, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), equips, supplies, and trains our troops; cares for them and their families; and sets national security policy in a dangerous world.
The main focus of this year's bill was closing the readiness gap resulting from several years of steep defense spending cuts; cuts that have devastated our military's ability to plan, train, equip, and maintain our force. Specifically, this year's bill calls for base budget requirements of $631.5 billion, including more than $25 billion dedicated to military readiness.
As the chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, I was particularly pleased with the provisions related to the Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force that were included in the bill. Some of those provisions are listed below:
* Establishes the policy of the United States to have available not fewer than 355 battle force ships;
* Builds on the eight ships requested by the administration and adds an additional five ships;
* Directs the Department of Defense to obtain 12 aircraft carriers by the end of fiscal year 2023;
* Recommends an expansion of KC-46As, C-130J variants, E-2Ds and P-8s; and
* Maintains our commitment to the B-21 Raider program.
The Seapower provisions in this NDAA take the first steps towards restoring our military readiness and giving our Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force the tools and resources they need to deter our adversaries, support our allies, and respond to threats around the globe.
Also of great significance to me are the local priorities that made it into the final bill, all of which are critical not only to our Commonwealth's economy and continued role as the national leader in supporting our Armed Forces, but in the national security of our country as well. Those include:
* Langley Air Force Base: Encourages the Chief of Staff of the Air Force to ensure that CAOC-X and other regional CAOCs (like Langley) are resourced, manned, and fully utilized to serve as a training venue for the planning, execution, and command and control of joint forces taking part in major regional joint exercises.
* George P. Coleman Memorial Bridge, Yorktown, VA: Requests a briefing from the DoD on the military value of the Coleman Bridge’s swingspan, to include a discussion with local and State stakeholders that have financial responsibility for the management of the bridge.
* The Domestic Maritime Centers of Excellence Act, legislation I recently introduced , was added as an amendment to the NDAA. The bill advances the capabilities of two-year community and technical colleges to assist the federal government and industry in securing the talent pipeline for domestic maritime industry jobs, which will mean more shipbuilders and repairmen to sustain and expand trade and grow our Navy's Fleet.
* Improvement of the U.S. Navy’s public shipyards, like Norfolk Naval Shipyard, in the areas of personnel and infrastructure.
Now that it has passed the Armed Services Committee, the NDAA can be brought to the House floor for a vote. I will continue to promote these local priorities, and the Seapower-specific provisions, as the bill moves through the legislative process.
It's an honor to serve you and Virginia's First District in the People's House.