WASHINGTON – Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01), chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, released the following statement after signing the conference report of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18 NDAA).
The bill is the main mechanism through which Congress "provides for the common defense" of our nation. This bill equips, supplies, and trains our troops; provides a better livelihood for them and their families; and sets critical national security policy to face a dangerous world. The authorization calls for base budget requirements of $626 billion. Together with $66 billion for the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) warfighting account and $8 billion for other defense activities, the legislation supports a national defense topline of nearly $700 billion—a $26 billion increase above the President’s combined initial and amended budget requests. This increases the size of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Guard, and Reserve commensurate with the threats we face, and fully funds a 2.4% pay raise for our troops.
"We face a wide array of threats around the globe and this bill provides the authorities and resources for our men and women of the Armed Forces to do the job we've asked them to do," Rep. Wittman said. “The NDAA Conference Report puts the Defense topline at the right level. This authorization fully funds the president’s budget and provides for all of the requests from the services as part of their unfunded requirements.”
“In addition, we have accelerated the build rate to achieve the nation’s strategic goal of a 355-ship Navy. The President’s budget request asked for funding for eight ships, and we authorized funding for an additional five battle force ships for a total of thirteen. With an additional Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, two Littoral Combat Ships, a Puller-class Expeditionary Support Base, and a San Antonio-class Amphibious Landing Platform, we are sending a clear signal that a 355-ship Navy is not just a theoretical idea, but rather an attainable reality. This bill also supports advance procurement funding attack submarines and fully funds the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine development, which allows us to deliver critical undersea capabilities at the lowest cost to the taxpayers.”
In addition to funding extra ships, this bill also provides substantial relief for our aging Naval and Air Force aircraft. The bill boosts Air Force procurement by fully funding the development of the B-21 Raider bomber program and adding funds for an additional 2 KC-46A air refueling aircraft, 6 MC-130J transport aircraft and 1 HC-130J special mission aircraft. Further, it provides funds to procure an additional 3 P-8A anti-submarine warfare aircraft, and 4 KC-130J air refueling aircraft for the Navy and Marine Corps.
“Despite its successes, I am disappointed that the FY18 NDAA does not include language that would authorize a multi-year deal for two aircraft carriers, specifically CVN-80 and -81. It is clear to me that the bureaucracy of the Department of Defense yet again slowed down an initiative that could have saved $2.5 billion for the taxpayers. I think Secretary of the Navy Spencer is on track to deliver a 355-ship Navy and we need to better support his business acumen to deliver sound ideas in cost effective ways. I will not stop advocating for our men and women in uniform as well as our talented shipbuilders; we will work on this again next year.”
Congressman Rob Wittman represents the 1st District of Virginia. He serves on the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, where he is the Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee.