News from Representative Courtney

   

Dear Friend,

On Wednesday, I worked through a marathon session of the House Armed Services Committee from 10:00 AM until after midnight. It was our annual “markup” of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which determines the budget and expenditures for the Department of Defense for the next fiscal year. The 2018 NDAA is an important one for our region, and was the next milestone in a series of prior NDAA’s that I have worked on to bolster our region’s submarine production since taking office in 2007.

When I first came to Congress, the Navy’s Virginia-class submarine program had been limping along at a rate of only one submarine per year, which meant that only one half of a submarine was being built in Groton (the other half being built in Newport News, Virginia). This slowdown in the workload not only contracted the Electric Boat shipyard, which had seen massive layoffs since the 1990s - it also dried up the parts manufacturers in our region and state that fed into the EB supply chain.

In my first year on the House Armed Services Committee, I was successful in securing a $588 million “plus up”  that kick-started submarine construction to two-per-year. In 2014, the ramp up that started in 2007 culminated in the largest contract in Navy history to build 10 subs at EB in a 5 year term. Then, in 2016, the Navy announced that Electric Boat will be the prime contractor for the Columbia-class, the next generation of ballistic missile submarines. This cascade of Congressional funding has transformed Groton’s formerly quiet facility into a bustling shipyard. EB’s workforce passed the 15,000 mark this year and is on track to grow to 18,000 over the next five to ten years.

Earlier today, Rep. Courtney met with the Metal Trades Council in Groton to discuss the increasing workload at Electric Boat

Even with all of this growth, recent world events have sent a “demand signal” from the Navy that an even larger submarine force is needed. Last year, then-Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, who served in the Obama administration, released the Navy’s Force Structure Assessment which said that the country needs a  355-ship Navy, including 66 submarines- up from the last target of 48. This year, the House Armed Services Committee heard testimony on the strategic basis for that recommendation, including testimony from multiple Combatant Commanders such as Admiral Harry Harris of the Pacific Command and General Mike Scaparotti of the European Command. They meticulously explained that the size of the current submarine force is not adequate for their needs.

Watch Admiral Harry Harris of the Pacific Command testify in April: "I need more submarines"

That’s why this year’s NDAA was so important. The budget that came over to Congress last month sustained the two a year build rate over the next few years. While this is a good start, it is clear that we must do more to keep up with the growing demand and increasing requirements of our nation. Following the same model that I used in advocating for increased submarine building in 2007 and 2014, this year I worked with the Republican Chairman of the Seapower Subcommittee, Congressman Rob Wittman of Virginia, to build on the budget request. To this end, I’m pleased to report that the 2018 NDAA approved in the committee this week includes my provision to authorize up to 13 new Virginia class submarines in the next five year “block” contract that starts in 2019. This would allow the Navy to secure three additional submarines over the current plans, with a three-a-year build rate possible in 2020, 2022 and 2023.

The Day's editorial board wrote a piece on what the FY 2018 NDAA will mean for our region

This development adds to the already rapidly growing economic impact of the submarine construction increase that is helping to fuel recovery in eastern Connecticut. We have already seen an expansion in manufacturing employment and real estate development. With more submarines comes more hires, and with more hires comes more people to invest in our eastern Connecticut economy. This long-term payoff will not just be felt in New London County- it will ripple across the entire state as the parts manufacturers in the Electric Boat supply chain find greater demand for their work.

There’s still a few steps ahead in the legislative process before this bill becomes law, and I will continue to work on a bipartisan basis to do all I can to help make it happen. I am proud to have led the way in Congress to help eastern Connecticut answer the call for increased submarine production. It is an exciting time for our region, and I will continue to advocate for thoughtful defense spending that assists our men and women at sea and the communities in our own backyard.

As always, if there is any way that my office can assist you or your family, please do not hesitate to give us a call at my Norwich District Office: 860-886-0139.

 

  
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