Legislation to Strengthen National Defense Passes Senate with Provisions Championed by Senator Collins

The bill would provide the largest pay increase for service members in a decade and authorize three new destroyers

Washington, D.C. — Today, the U.S. Senate passed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) by a vote of 86 to 8.  This legislation will strengthen our national defense and support our men and women in uniform.  U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a senior member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, voted in favor of the bill.  The bill now heads to the House of Representatives. 

 

The NDAA authorizes $750 billion for national defense so that our military has the resources it needs to confront threats around the globe.  The funding will increase training, accelerate modernization efforts, bolster readiness, and support members of the armed forces.

 

“Our state has an integral role in our national security thanks to the numerous Mainers who have answered the call to serve our nation in uniform and the thousands of hardworking Mainers who build and maintain our naval fleet, aircraft, and other military assets,” said Senator Collins.  “This legislation is vitally important, not only for strengthening the defense of our nation, but also for bolstering our support for the brave men and women in our armed forces and ensuring that they have the equipment they need to carry out their missions effectively.  I am particularly pleased that the NDAA includes the largest pay increase for our troops in a decade as well as an amendment I authored to help servicemembers acquire the skills they need to obtain good-paying jobs upon returning to civilian life.”

 

Senator Collins advocated for a number of provisions that are important to Maine, including:

  

DDG-51.  Authorizes the procurement of three Arleigh Burke-class (DDG-51) guided missile destroyers.  It also includes $260 million in additional advanced procurement funds to procure lead materials.

 

DDG-1000.  Authorizes $271 million for the Zumwalt-class (DDG-1000) guided missile destroyer program.

 

Frigate/FFG(X).  Authorizes the procurement of the lead FFG(X), a class of multimission guided-missile frigates, for $1.28 billion.  The contract for the next class of Navy frigates is expected to be awarded in 2020.

 

F-35 Procurement. Authorizes 94 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft (60 F-35As, 12 F-35Bs, 22 F-35Cs) which is 16 more than requested in the President’s budget.

 

Pay Raise.  Authorizes a 3.1 percent pay raise for members of the Armed Forces.

 

BRAC.  Prohibits conducting an additional Base Realignment and Closure round. 

 

Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS). Prohibits the Department of Defense (DoD) from procuring firefighting foam that contains PFAS/PFOA chemicals after October 2022, and permits cooperative agreements with states to address PFAS contamination in drinking, surface or ground water.  The bill also establishes two new environmental restoration accounts for use by the Air and Army National Guard for environmental remediation.  Additionally, it provides for blood testing for DoD firefighters to determine and document PFAS exposure during annual physicals.

Senator Collins also sponsored an amendment that was included in the NDAA:

 

Apprenticeships.  Senators Collins and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) sponsored a provision that would further expand the DoD Skillsbridge Program by allowing the inclusion of federal agencies as program participants. Currently, at the discretion of military commanders, DOD authorizes servicemembers transitioning to civilian life to carry out skills training, apprenticeships, and internship programs beginning up to six months before the completion of their military obligation. This program allows servicemembers to receive job training that eases the transition to civilian life and can lead to full-time civilian jobs. In a recent report to Congress, the DoD recommended that Congress expand this authority to allow for the inclusion of federal agencies as participants, not just private industry employers.