Opinion Pieces by Rob
Defense spending: critical to Virginia's economy
Virginia’s critical role in our nation’s defense is undeniable. The Commonwealth of Virginia is home to 27 military bases, representing every branch, along with the Pentagon — the headquarters of the Department of Defense (DoD) and the largest office building in the world.
While Virginia contributes much to our nation’s defense, the commonwealth also reaps some benefit as the DoD contributes to our economy by providing hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in expenditures. To that end, defense spending accounts for 20 percent of all economic production across the commonwealth. In fiscal year 2016 alone, direct defense-related expenditures were over $72 billion and supported more than 240,000 jobs. However, in Virginia we also have hundreds of contractors supporting our men and women in uniform who were not part of that 240,000. Therefore, when accounting for direct, indirect, and induced effects of these expenditures, FY2016 spending supported more than 884,000 jobs (17 percent of all Virginia jobs), produced $65 billion in labor income, and impacted the gross state product by more than $102 billion.
Our academic and industrial bases are strategic assets and I believe it is critical that we get cutting-edge technology into the hands of our warfighters. Procurement contracts supported more than 400,000 jobs in Virginia and impacted gross state product by $40.5 billion in FY16. I am proud that the 1st District plays such an important role in that. I was in Spotsylvania just the other day where HDT Global has opened its brand-new Battle Lab Advanced Development Engineering (BLADE) facility. HDT’s BLADE Center is bringing new jobs to the community, many of which are highly-skilled, engineering positions. This facility will be laser focused on delivering expeditionary capabilities that enhance the effectiveness and safety of our men and women in uniform. HDT is just one of many contractors that we have in VA-01.
Tens of thousands of 1st District constituents contribute to defending our nation every day. In addition to those serving on bases in the 1st District (Marine Corps Base Quantico, NSWC Dahlgren, and Fort A.P. Hill), Virginians also commute to locations such as the Pentagon and various Navy installations in Newport News to support our military.
I have been proud to stand up and fight for what our servicemembers need to be successful, and one of those things is consistent funding.
For almost a decade, DoD spending has been unpredictable due to a combination of late appropriations and continuing resolutions (CRs). However, this year Congress took another step in the right direction. At the end of September, the House and Senate passed H.R. 6157, a spending package that includes fiscal year 2019 funding for the DoD. This means the DoD will have a full year of predictable, reliable funding — something countless military leaders have been asking Congress to do year after year.
ncluded in this bill is a provision I have long championed: authority for the Navy to proceed with a dual buy of aircraft carriers. If the Navy chooses to move forward, this will save taxpayers more than $2 billion and bring certainty to Virginia’s strong industrial base, as we are the only state in the nation capable of building nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. This provision would also put the United States on the path to reaching a 355-ship Navy with 12 aircraft carriers, the number established by law in the FY18 National Defense Authorization Act.
I have been a leading voice in Congress for securing on-time defense funding, spending that goes directly into supporting and fueling Virginia’s economy. I always work to put the 1st District first, and I will continue to advocate and defend the most significant portion of our economy — defense.