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Wittman Applauds Committee Passage of Annual Defense Authorization

WASHINGTON - Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01), Chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, today applauded committee passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19).

"Admiral Richardson has projected the 355-ship Navy vision, Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer provided an excellent acquisition strategy, and the industrial base is poised and ready. The last step to complete the plan is for Congress to provide the authority to move forward. That is what HASC accomplished tonight,” Wittman said. “This FY19 NDAA provides the right capabilities with the right balance to support our warfighters, including the 13 ships I have been fighting for that would support CNO Richardson and reach our national policy of 355 ships. The Seapower and Projection Forces 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." 

“In 2017 we lost 17 sailors; that cannot go unanswered,” Wittman said. “Over the past six months we have been in conversations with the Navy through their Surface Warfare investigations, and we have directed new efforts at all levels to address the deficiencies that lead to this unacceptable loss of life. I applaud the Committee for incorporating the ideas put forth by both experts and the Navy through the Strategic Readiness Review and the Comprehensive Review. We must immediately implement changes to expand the Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) qualification process, to provide two clear career paths that allow for specialization in either engineering or navigation, and to designate a single commander for all Navy Shipyards. It is absolutely critical that we make these changes to protect our sailors at sea, and I look forward to advocating for final passage on the House floor.”

The authorization calls for base budget requirements of $616.7 billion, increases the size of Army, Navy, Air Force, Air Guard, and Naval and Air Reserve commensurate with the threats we face, and fully funds a 2.6% pay raise for our troops. 

Specific Seapower provisions included in the NDAA for FY19:

  • Authorizes a total of 13 ships, which includes the 10 original ships in the fiscal year 2019 budget request: two Virginia-class submarines, three DDG 51 Arleigh Burke destroyers; one Littoral Combat Ship (LCS); two T-AO 205 oilers; one Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB); and one T-ATS towing, salvage, and rescue ship. In addition to these ten, the bill adds three battle force ships, including one Ford-class aircraft carrier and two additional LCS for a total of 13 ships;
  • Specifically authorizes the procurement of CVN-81, the fourth Ford-class aircraft carrier;
  • Recommends long lead time material funding in fiscal year 2019 for two additional Virginia-class submarines in fiscal years 2022 and 2023;
  • Authorizes multi-year procurement for the Marine Corps’ next amphibious ship class, LPD Flight II.
  • Authorizes the multiyear procurement associated with 625 SM-6 missiles at a rate of 125 missiles per year;
  • Recommends an expansion in critical enablers including LRASM, Tomahawk, MK-48 heavyweight torpedos, and sonobuoys;
  • Authorizes the multiyear procurement of E-2D Advanced Hawkeye and C-130J Super Hercules aircraft;
  • Full funding for the B-21 Raider program;
  • Establishes a floor of 479 air refueling tanker aircraft in the Air Force inventory subject to the results of the Mobility Capability and Requirements Study 2018;
  • Full funding for the VC-25B Presidential Recapitalization Aircraft program;
  • Continues support for the propulsion and propeller upgrades of Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve C-130H airlift aircraft;
  • Retains the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) until a replacement capability can be developed;
  • Authorizes the Secretary of Defense to enter into a contract for 10 foreign-built, used sealift vessels concurrent with a plan to construct 10 new sealift vessels;
  • Limits Military Sealift Command fiscal year 2019 expenditures until the Secretary of the Navy has entered into a contract for two vessels and has completed the requirements documentation for the construction of 10 new sealift vessels;
  • Requires Ready Reserve Fleet vessel upgrades to comply with SOLIS lifeboat and fire suppression requirements;
  • Restricts the acquisition of foreign-built training ships and requires construction of the National Security Multi Mission Vessel in U.S. shipyards to support these State Maritime Academies training requirements; and,
  • Establishes increase in Maritime Security Program (MSP) funding to ensure retention of 60 MSP vessels.

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.