December 08, 2016

Kaine Statement On Passage Of Defense Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement on final passage of the Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contains provisions he helped secure that will benefit Virginia’s shipbuilding industry and defense community:

“Each year, I work across the aisle with my colleagues on the Armed Services Committee to craft an annual defense bill that supports our military and helps our country meet today’s complex national security challenges. I was proud to support final passage of the NDAA, which contains funding and provisions to support Virginia’s defense community, ship builders constructing our Ford-class carriers and Virginia-class submarines, and public and private shipyards doing the indispensable work that keeps our nation’s strategic assets the strongest in the world. However, I am deeply disappointed that Congress has resigned itself to passing a Continuing Resolution which will threaten many of the programs we have just agreed to authorize. The inability to work in a bipartisan fashion to find compromise on a long-term appropriations bill threatens our national security, unnecessarily delays programs which increases costs, and jeopardizes the future of countless workers across the Commonwealth and the country.”

The bill also included a provision, authored by Kaine, to help combat violent extremism by giving the Department of Defense (DoD) the flexibility to work cooperatively with civilian agencies like the State Department and USAID. The provision allows DoD to transfer funds to support programs at civilian agencies designed to address drivers of violent extremism.

“Battlefield commanders repeatedly testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that military force alone cannot defeat terrorist groups and eliminate the scourge of violent extremism. This provision authorizes the flexibility our military officials have asked for to work in closer coordination with civilian agencies that are best equipped to tackle the root causes of violent extremism,” said Kaine.

The following list includes many of the programs and provisions Kaine supported 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 vitality of Virginia’s shipyards by supporting the President’s budget request for Navy Operations and Maintenance account.

Authorizes Military Construction (MILCON): The bill authorizes over $190 million in critical military construction projects throughout the Commonwealth, including $87 million for two projects at Fort Belvoir, $59 million for two projects at Joint Base Langley Eustis, over $20 million for two projects at the Pentagon, $27 million for a project at Naval Station Norfolk, and $6 million for a project in Dublin, VA.

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

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

Sequestration: A modification of Senator Kaine’s language puts Congress on record denouncing the shortsighted, non-strategic and across-the-board sequestration cuts and their harmful impact on our national security.  Final language states the Committee’s belief that these methods remain an unreasonable and inadequate budgeting tool to address deficits and debt of the federal government.

Commissaries: The bill makes some reforms to the commissary system but without reducing the benefits to patrons.  Kaine sponsored a provision in the Senate bill that delayed a proposal to conduct a pilot program privatizing the commissary system believing it would compromise its value.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE):  Senator Kaine offered an amendment to provide Combatant Commanders increased flexibility in addressing violent extremism by facilitating cooperation between DoD’s counterterrorism operations and State Department and USAID’s governance, justice, and youth development efforts. The amendment was drafted with input from senior military commanders who believe that violent extremist organizations are far more agile and complex than the current DoD tools being used to defeat them.