Washington, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a senior member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, announced that the fiscal year (FY) 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which would authorize $731.4 billion for national defense, passed the Senate by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 86-14 today. The Senate and the House of Representatives will now work to resolve the differences between their respective NDAA bills.
“The NDAA represents one of Congress’ most important responsibilities. For the past 59 consecutive years, Congress has come together in a bipartisan manner to craft this annual legislation,” said Senator Collins. “The NDAA authorizes funding to support our brave military members serving overseas, including a three percent pay raise for our troops in this year’s bill, and sets policy for our nation’s military and critical national defense priorities. The legislation also contains provisions important to our state, supporting the jobs of the hardworking Mainers who make invaluable contributions to our national security, including at BIW, PNSY, and Pratt & Whitney.”
Senator Collins authored three amendments that were adopted in the final bill:
- Strengthening the Navy. An amendment Senator Collins authored and Senator Angus King (I-ME) co-sponsored would prohibit the Navy from reducing its current 104-ship destroyer requirement unless the Secretary of the Navy submits a formal certification and report to Congress demonstrating that any proposed reduction would not jeopardize our national security. This amendment will help to protect our shipbuilding industrial base, including Bath Iron Works, which will be essential to reach the goal of a 355-ship Navy.
- Navy Pandemic Preparedness. Another amendment Senator Collins authored would direct the Navy to report on its plans to prevent and mitigate the impacts of future pandemics, with a focus on protecting the health and safety of workers at private and public shipyards.
- Ensuring Availability of Containment Systems. Senator Collins authored an amendment that would require the Director of the Defense Health Agency to conduct a study on requirements for commercial off-the-shelf negative air pressure room containment systems. The relatively small domestic industrial base for these systems was overwhelmed by heavy demand from civilian hospitals and federal agencies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies such as STARC Systems in Brunswick continue to produce these life-saving systems as the nation battles the COVID-19 pandemic.
The NDAA Also includes a number of provisions Senator Collins strongly advocated for that will benefit Maine:
- Support for BIW. The NDAA authorizes two Arleigh-Burke Destroyers, one of which will be built by the highly skilled men and women at Bath Iron Works.
- Support for PNSY Employees. A provision championed by Senators Collins and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) would help PNSY firefighters develop alternative work schedules and exempt public shipyard workers from DOD’s government lodging program when it would adversely affect their mission.
- Infrastructure Improvements at PNSY. The NDAA authorizes $160 million for the first phase of funding for PNSY’s Multi-Mission Dry Dock #1 extension military construction project, which will be authorized and funded over three years due to its large size. This project will ensure PNSY is able to support the Navy’s Virginia-class submarines for decades to come.
- Support for Defense Contractors in Maine. The NDAA authorizes 95 fifth-generation Joint Strike Fighter aircraft and seven CH-53K King Stallion helicopters. Pratt & Whitney’s North Berwick factory manufactures the F-35’s top-of-line engine, and Hunting Dearborn in Fryberg has been making important contributions to both the F-35 and CH-53K programs for years.
- Maine National Guard. The NDAA ensures that Maine National Guard members who were activated to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic can receive transitional health benefits.
- Support for Semiconductor Industry. An amendment co-sponsored by Senator Collins would make critical investments in commercial and defense-related microelectronics projects to ensure the United States remains a world leader in the industry. This will help keep our national security strong and benefit domestic manufacturers of semiconductors, like On Semiconductor and Texas Instruments that have factories in South Portland.
- Navy Station in Cutler. The NDAA authorizes the construction of additional perimeter security at the Navy’s detachment in Cutler, an important installation that allows Navy commanders to communicate with U.S. and NATO ships, planes, and submarines operating in the Atlantic. This project was the Navy’s #1 unfunded military construction priority and was included in the NDAA at Senator Collins’ request.