May 12, 2016

Kaine Applauds Virginia Wins in 2017 Defense Bill, Calls For Transparent Approach To DOD Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement on the Committee’s Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes a number of provisions he advocated for to benefit Virginia’s shipbuilding industry and defense community. The bill was reported out of committee today and will now advance to the full Senate for consideration.

“I’m proud this bill includes many provisions that will benefit Virginia’s hardworking defense community, including support for our servicemembers and their families and funding to maintain our carrier fleet and bolster the shipbuilding industry. Virginia is one of the states most connected to the military – through our servicemembers, military families, veterans, contractors and infrastructure – and ensuring that our national defense policies fuel continued growth for the Commonwealth is one of my highest priorities. 

“While I appreciate Chairman McCain’s goal of making the Department of Defense more efficient, I’m concerned by the process that led to department reforms in this year’s NDAA, which were proposed without full input of stakeholders in the defense community or any other outside agency. During Committee debate, I offered an amendment that would create a commission to study many of the challenged areas in the Department of Defense and propose reform recommendations for Congress to consider and debate. I was disappointed that my proposal wasn’t adopted, but following my suggestions, Committee leadership made improvements to reduce the severity of some proposals and potential career impacts across the Department of Defense and the services. I still have serious concerns about some of the provisions in the bill. As the bill heads to the Senate floor, I’ll keep urging my colleagues to get the public’s input before making far-reaching reforms that could inadvertently dilute our military capability and deter talented young individuals from contemplating a career in the greatest military in the world.”

During Committee debate, Kaine offered an amendment that would have empowered a Commission to study the Department of Defense, the Combatant Commands and various other internal staff functions of the Department and then make reform recommendations. Read his full remarks here.

The following list includes many of the programs and provisions Kaine advocated for during the markup process that were included in the final bill:

Supports Shipbuilding: Provides funding for research, procurement and sustainment of an 11-carrier fleet. The bill continues to fund construction of the USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78), USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) and research and purchasing of the future USS Enterprise (CVN 80). Additionally, the bill funds the refueling and complex overhauls (RCOH) of the USS George Washington (CVN 73) and the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). The bill also authorizes full funding for the Virginia-class and Ohio-class submarine programs, the LHA-8 amphibious assault ship and the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. The bill ensures the strength of Virginia shipyards by supporting the President’s budget request for Navy Operations and Maintenance account.

Improves Credentialing Process for Servicemembers: The authorization includes a provision Kaine introduced to continue to reduce veterans’ unemployment by ensuring that servicemembers receive high-quality accredited credentials that will prepare them for a successful transition to civilian employment. Building off of previous credentialing victories, the bill expands the scope of authorized credentials to additional skills servicemembers acquire throughout their service.

Bolsters DoD-Virginia Tech Industry Relationship: The bill included a Kaine provision to permanently authorize the Information Technology Exchange Program (ITEP) which exchanges best practices and IT personnel between the Department and the private sector. The provision encourages greater outreach to private sector partners in Northern Virginia and other high density technology hubs.  

Puts Committee on Record Against Sequestration: Kaine put the Committee on record denouncing the shortsighted, non-strategic and across-the-board sequestration cuts and their harmful impact on our national security. Kaine’s amendment states the Committee’s belief that these methods remain an unreasonable and inadequate budgeting tool to address deficits and debt and that relief from sequestration should come for both defense and non-defense programs. 

No BRAC Round: The bill rejects the Department of Defense proposals for a new Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round.

Authorizes Military Construction (MILCON): The committee authorizes $59.2 million in critical military construction projects throughout the Commonwealth.