Senator Collins Statement Following Final Passage of the Defense Authorization

    WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Senator Susan Collins voted this afternoon in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Report for fiscal year 2016, which passed the Senate with a strong bipartisan majority this afternoon (70-27).  The Conference Report would authorize $515 billion in spending for national defense and an additional $89.2 billion for the Overseas Contingency Fund (OCO) for a total of $604.2 billion and sets policy for the Department of Defense on a host of issues.
 
      After the vote, Senator Collins released the following statement:
 
      “During my time in the Senate, I have never been more concerned about instability and the challenges posed by the unprecedented threats around the globe. This important bipartisan legislation is vital to ensuring our national security.  While passage of the NDAA is an essential step toward securing our national security objectives, I am concerned that some of my colleagues in the Senate continue to block the advancement of the FY 2016 Defense Appropriations Bill.  I am also concerned by the President’s recent announcement of a veto threat, despite the significant bipartisan support for this bill.”
 
      “This legislation affirms the strategic importance of our Navy and shipbuilding programs by fully funding the DDG-1000 Program and authorizing $400 million toward an additional DDG-51 beyond those included in the current multiyear procurement contract.  This bill also maintains investments in our public shipyards, which are strategic facilities in our national security arsenal,” Senator Collins added.   
 
      “Our Navy fleet provides the robust forward presence our nation requires to respond to humanitarian disasters, project force, and protect critical trade routes that facilitate global commerce and security.  The DDG-1000 is the lead ship of its class and will bolster our ability to project power. The power of presence cannot be taken for granted or ignored, which is why the investments made by this bill are so necessary.  We simply need more ships to be where we want to be in the world, when we need to be there,” Senator Collins continued.  
 
      In addition, the final conference report strikes a harmful provision that would have reduced the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) benefit for married service members. Senator Collins filed an amendment to the Senate version of the NDAA that sought to strike the BAH reduction and also wrote to the Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman and Ranking Member, successfully urging the leaders to strike the provision in the final conference report.
 
      “The Basic Allowance for Housing benefit is critically important for our service members, particularly as housing prices continue to rise. In addition, one in five women on active duty are married to another service member, compared with only 3.7 percent of active-duty men.  That means women would be five times more likely to be affected by such a reduction in this benefit than their male counterparts. I am pleased to see that this harmful provision has been removed from the NDAA Conference Report,” Senator Collins stated.
 
The bill provides funding for many other important programs that affect Maine, including:

  • Providing $2.3 billion for KC-46A tankers;
  • Supporting the President’s request for 57 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and authorizing six additional F-35Bs for the Marine Corps, for a total of 63 planes; and
  • Expanding the boundaries of the HUBZone program to allow more businesses to qualify, which would assist in the redevelopment of the site of the former Brunswick Naval Air Station.