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Kaine Statement on Senate Passage of 2023 National Defense Bill

Kaine secures wins for Virginia’s servicemembers, defense community, and national security

WASHINGTON, D.C. —Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), released the following statement after the Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes various provisions secured and supported by Kaine to benefit Virginia’s defense community, shipbuilding industry, and national security:

“I’m proud that this year’s annual defense bill will help ensure our military personnel have the resources they need to protect our nation. Our servicemembers sacrifice so much to keep us safe. This bipartisan bill will help provide them with a pay raise and access to mental health services, as well as support Virginia’s shipbuilding industry and bolster our national security. I’m also excited that the legislation will fund important military construction and water infrastructure projects across Virginia. I’m glad my colleagues came together to pass this year’s bill, and I urge the President to sign it as soon as possible.”

Kaine advocated for many priorities that were 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 Department of Defense (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: Authorizes more than $295 million for military construction projects in Virginia.

  • $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 servicemembers’ ability to seek mental health treatment.
  • 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 DOD. Virginia Commonwealth University participates in this Convergence Lab program.

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

Military Housing: Directs DOD to reevaluate calculations for the Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) and raise BAH in high-cost areas; improves oversight over military housing issues; and requires an audit of medical conditions of residents in privatized military housing to help determine the scope of health issues and unsafe and/or unhealthy living conditions of residents in private military housing.

STEM Education: Authorizes $131 million in investments in STEM programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), reflecting a $30 million increase for STEM programs.

Cybersecurity: Requires DOD 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 DOD for transition plans for 5-G communications infrastructure at all military installations.

Support for Ukraine:

  • Provides $800 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI).
  • Includes legislation, which Kaine cosponsored, to prohibit the U.S. government from recognizing Russia’s claim of sovereignty over any portion of Ukraine.

Global Food Security: Reauthorizes the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act, bipartisan legislation Kaine cosponsored, to improve U.S. strategy and reauthorize funding to fight global food insecurity and hunger.

Oversight of State Department Ambassadors: Strengthens oversight of non-career ambassadors by permitting all U.S. citizen embassy staff to complete an anonymous survey that assesses the leadership of the post’s ambassador and authorizes the Director General of the Foreign Service to refer deficiencies in performance to the Inspector General—a provision based off Kaine’s Ambassador Oversight and Transparency Act.

U.S.-Ecuador Partnership Act: Includes bipartisan legislation to lay out a comprehensive diplomatic strategy to strengthen U.S-Ecuador cooperation on issues of mutual interest, including strengthening democratic institutions, promoting economic growth, and expanding options to address corruption and crime.

Water Resources Development Act: Includes key provisions Kaine secured to strengthen Virginia’s water infrastructure.

  • An increase in the authorization of the Western Lee County Sewer Project from $20 million to $52 million. The project will create new opportunities for economic growth and serve residents of Western Lee County who currently do not have access to a public wastewater collection or treatment system, posing a threat to public health and the area’s surface water and groundwater quality.
  • A study to support needed modifications to Anchorage F of the Norfolk Harbor and Channels Deepening and Widening project for improved safety and navigation.

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