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Kaine Secures Wins for Virginia, Servicemembers, and National Security in 2023 Defense Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), released the following statement after legislative text for the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was released by the House Committee on Rules. This year’s NDAA includes various provisions secured and supported by Kaine to benefit Virginia’s defense community and shipbuilding industry.

“Every year, I make it a priority to hear directly from Virginia servicemembers and their families about how we can better support them as they make tremendous sacrifices to protect our nation. The perspectives and insights they offer me are essential to my work on the Senate Armed Services Committee, where I’m honored to participate in a collaborative and bipartisan process to shape our annual National Defense Authorization Act. I’m glad that this year’s bill will help us bolster our national security, increase pay for our servicemembers, make strides in expanding access to mental health services, and support Virginia-based defense research, among other important steps. I look forward to working with my colleagues to get this bill across the finish line as quickly as possible."

Kaine advocated for many priorities that were ultimately adopted in the final bill, including:

Topline: An additional $45 billion to the President’s request.

Pay Raises: Authorizes funding to support a 4.6 percent pay raise for both military servicemembers and the DOD civilian workforce.

Shipbuilding: Fully funds the Ford-class carrier program, CVN Refueling and Complex Overhaul, and Virginia-class and Columbia-class submarine programs. Guarantees a minimum of 31 operational amphibious warfare ships for the Navy and Marine Corps. Adds $250 million for LPD-33, a key priority of the Marine Corps and Huntington Ingalls Industries. The legislation also requires the incorporation of Navy shipbuilding workforce development initiatives in shipbuilding contracts to cement investment in the industry.

Military Construction:

  • $125 million for Submarine Pier 3 at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • $47.72 million for a Dry Dock Saltwater System for CVN-78 at Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
  • $26.6 million for a SOF (Special Forces) operations building addition at Dam Neck.
  • $19 million for a primary distribution substation at Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads.
  • $18 million for a commercial vehicle inspection facility at the Pentagon.
  • $16.86 million for submarine logistics support facilities at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • $10.5 million for Langley AFB for Air Force Reserve construction and land acquisition projects.
  • $10.4 million for G/ATOR (Ground/Air Task Oriented Radar) support facilities at Dam Neck.
  • $10 million to support research and development of advanced fuels to support future DOD energy requirements. This development would happen at BWXT in Lynchburg, cementing Lynchburg’s leadership as a center for innovation.
  • $3.4 million for backup power generation at Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads.
  • $2.5 million for electrical substation upgrades at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division.
  • $2.3 million for Child Development Center planning and development at Naval Station Norfolk.
  • $1.23 million for Weapons Integration and Test Campus planning and development at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division.
  • $1.1 million for a secondary cooling system at NCE Springfield at Fort Belvoir.
  • $1.1 million for Child Development Center planning and development at Naval Air Station Oceania.

Mental Health:

  • Requires DoD to update command notification requirements to protect servicembers’ ability to address mental health challenges.
  • Directs an audit of the behavioral health care providers in the TRICARE directory and a study on the mental health care services provided under TRICARE to assess the current capabilities and what additional support is needed for servicemembers.
  • Requires development of a program to certify health care workers that uniquely address the mental health needs of servicemembers and families.

Virginia-Based Research:

  • Provides $5 million in funding for research and partnerships between the Navy, industry, and academia for studying submarine and unmanned undersea vehicle capabilities. Virginia Tech is among the universities that will conduct this research.
  • Provides $2 million in funding for research and development of environmentally friendly biopolymers and other materials that can be deployed on the battlefield. Virginia Tech is among the universities that will conduct this research.
  • Provides an additional $5 million to help pioneer advances in critical technologies for the Department of Defense. Virginia Commonwealth University participates in this Convergence Lab program.

Military Families: Requires the Department of Defense to provide an update on current military spouse employment programs and recommendations to bolster the performance of these programs.

Supporting STEM Education: Authorizes $131 million in investments in STEM programs at HBCUs, reflecting a $30 million increase for STEM programs.

Cybersecurity: Requires the Department of Defense to establish a consortium with universities dedicated to studying cybersecurity issues. The legislation also requires the Air Force to employ commercial cybersecurity capabilities to ensure the protection of space architecture, which supports several satellite companies in Virginia.

Communication Infrastructure: Requires reporting from Department of Defense for transition plans for 5-G communications infrastructure at all military installations.

In order to authorize new defense spending levels, the NDAA must next be passed by the U.S. House of Representatives followed by the U.S. Senate before it can be signed into law by President Biden.

In addition to his work on the NDAA, Kaine is simultaneously urging his colleagues to pass a package of Fiscal Year 2023 government funding bills, which are needed each year to allocate the funding authorized in every NDAA, as well as other critical government funding. As Defense Secretary Austin outlined in a letter to congressional leaders in November, the higher funding levels included in the 2023 NDAA cannot be met if Congress funds the government through short-term stopgap funding bills—which leave current funding levels in place—rather than a full-year funding bill. “It is essential that Congress act now to complete a full-year, whole of government funding bill before the end of 2022. Failure to do so will result in significant harm to our people and our programs and would cause harm to our national security and our competiveness,” Austin wrote.

Full text of the bill is available here. An executive summary of the legislation is available here.