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Wittman Statement on House Passage of the FY18 NDAA Conference Report

Wittman Statement on House Passage of the FY18 NDAA Conference Report

WASHINGTON – Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01), chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, released this statement following the House passage of the conference report of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18 NDAA).

“As the Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee and a conferee, I am proud of this conference report as I believe it provides the authorities and resources for our men and women of the Armed Forces to do the job we've asked them to do. This conference report gets us well on our way to achieving our goal of a 355-ship Navy. I am pleased with our topline number; the increased funds will deliver a much-needed pay raise to our men and women in uniform, as well as address our current military readiness shortfalls.”

Below are Congressman Wittman remarks on the House Floor in support of the conference report:
Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of H.R. 2810, the National Defense Authorization Act for FY18. This bill fully funds our armed forces, increases troop end strength, sets in earnest the modernization of our military, and ensures that our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines are properly compensated for the sacrifices they make for a grateful nation on a daily basis.

In my role as the Seapower and Projection Forces Chairman, I vowed months ago to set the conditions for the Navy to grow to 355 ships, in accordance with the Navy’s own Force Structure Assessment. I’m proud to say that this bill sends the signal to our Navy, industrial base, and our adversaries that a 355 ship Navy is not just a theoretical idea, but rather, an achievable reality.

This bill expands on the eight ships requested by the administration by adding an additional five ships. The bill also recommends additional advance procurement for Virginia-class attack submarines, while fully funding the Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine program.

As to aircraft, the bill fully funds the B-21 Raider bomber program, a critical component of the future nuclear triad. This bill also recommends an expansion of KC-46As aerial refuelers, C-130J airlift, and P-8 anti-submarine aircraft. Finally, the bill delivers expanded authorities that will save the taxpayers billions of dollars.

Now some of our colleagues have suggested that our defense budget is excessive and that additional monies should be provided toward other efforts. My friends, this thought is not only misguided, but it is dangerous. We have a constitutional duty to provide for the common defense of our nation. I will not retreat from that responsibility, and I hope none of my colleagues undermine the efforts to deliver the $634 billion base monies that are required for our national security.

Finally, I want to recognize Ranking Member Joe Courtney. He has been, and continues to be, a true partner in ensuring the Seapower and Projection Forces of our nation are properly resourced. I do not think that we would be anywhere close to delivering the 355-ship Navy or providing for our Air Force’s deep strike capabilities without his steadfast resolve and sincere efforts to realize bipartisan solutions.

I urge my colleagues to support the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 and I yield back.

Virginia Specific Provisions:

Improvement of the U.S. Navy’s public shipyards, like Norfolk Naval Shipyard:
• Requests an employment development plan to estimate resources needed, workforce hiring targets, training necessary, and overtime support.
• Identifies deficiencies and develops a plan with proposed infrastructure projects associated with returning our Navy to a 355-ship Fleet, specifically as it relates to nuclear work.
Langley Air Force Base:
• Encourages the Chief of Staff of the Air Force to ensure that Combined Air Operations Center-Experimental (CAOC-X) and other regional CAOCs 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:
• 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 who have financial responsibility for the management of the bridge.
The Domestic Maritime Centers of Excellence Act:
• My legislation, added to the NDAA, 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 means more shipbuilders and repairmen to sustain and expand trade and grow our Navy's Fleet.

Seapower Specific Provisions

• 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.
• Authorizes multiyear procurement authority for 15 Arleigh Burke-class Destroyers for the next five years at a rate of three destroyers a year.
• Authorizes multi-year procurement authority for 13 Virginia-class Attack Submarines for the next five years at a minimum rate of two submarines per year and provides the Navy advanced procurement authority to support a third submarine in 2020, 2022 and 2023.
• Prohibits the retirement of additional Ticonderoga-class cruisers.
• Directs the Department of Defense to obtain 12 aircraft carriers by the end of fiscal year 2023.
• Provides expanded authority to more efficiently procure new Ford-class aircraft carriers and overhaul existing Nimitz-class aircraft carriers.
• Expands the authority of the National Sea-Based Deterrence Fund
• Restricts major overhauls and repairs of U.S. naval vessels in foreign shipyards.
• Prohibits the retirement of mine countermeasure ships until the Navy is able to deploy the Littoral Combat Ship mine warfare capability.
• Fully authorizes the Maritime Security Program.

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.

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