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July 25, 2018

Here's what's in store for Maine in 2019 defense spending bill

Photo / Jim Neuger The defense authorization bill for fiscal year 2019 authorizes $122.7 million for infrastructure modernizations at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, which includes the development of a dry dock super flood basin, improvements to the portal crane rail, and the construction of a new consolidated warehouse.

U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, reported Tuesday that the bill authorizing defense spending for 2019 was reported out of a conference committee with a number of provisions he said will benefit Maine.

The John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act, which establishes Department of Defense policies and authorizes military spending for FY 2019, was approved by the House 351-66 on May 24 and by the Senate 85-10 on June 18. The conference committee was tasked with reconciling any differences between the two versions of the approved legislation.

King served as a conferee for the legislation.

“At a time when we are facing a number of serious threats across the globe, the conference committee has produced a bipartisan bill that makes smart investments in our national defense and once again funds a number of priorities important to Maine including shipbuilding and infrastructure improvements at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard,” King said in a statement. “The continued inclusion of Maine-based projects reflects the importance of our state to the continued defense of the nation.”

King expressed disappointment the final bill did not keep a Senate provision that would have reimposed strict Commerce Department penalties on Chinese telecommunications company ZTE for violating U.S. sanctions against Iran and North Korea.

“But even with these concerns, the reconciled version takes a number of vital steps to ensure our national security, including prohibiting the federal government from doing business with ZTE, Huawei, and other Chinese telecommunications companies of concern,” he said. “There is no doubt that when it comes to ongoing threats to national security, we have more work to do — and at the end of the day, this bill will help our military better defend Americans from those who would seek to harm us.”

Here are the provisions identified by King that directly benefit Maine when the legislation is signed by President Trump:

  • Funding for shipbuilding priorities: The bill authorizes $5.17 billion for the procurement of three DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers in fiscal year 2019 that Bath Iron Works can compete to build, and $642 million to fund future year DDG-51 procurements. It also includes $271 million for the continued production of DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class destroyers, all of which are being built in Bath.
  • Infrastructure improvements at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard: The bill authorizes $122.7 million for infrastructure modernizations at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, which includes the development of a dry dock super flood basin, improvements to the portal crane rail, and the construction of a new consolidated warehouse.
  • Funding for Army weapon production: The bill authorizes $465.4 million for the Bradley Program, which procures M2 conversions and upgrades to the platform, as well as $22.3 million for continued production of crew served and multi-barrel weapons needed to ensure war readiness. The inclusion of this funding will help support General Dynamics' manufacturing facility in Saco.
  • CH-53K helicopter: The bill authorizes $1.23 billion to procure eight CH-53K helicopters and fund advance procurement items for future aircraft. Hunting Dearborn in Fryeburg manufactures the rotor shaft for this helicopter.
  • Funding for improved turbine engine program: The bill authorizes $192.6 million for the Improved Turbine Engine Program, which accelerates the program and ensures it will receive strong funding in the future. Honeywell in Westbrook and Pratt and Whitney in North Berwick are both in the supply chain for the program.

'Victories' for Maine

Other aspects of the bill that King characterized as “victories” for Maine:

Repeal of long-term temporary duty policy: King said he supported a provision that repeals the Department of Defense’s policy limiting per diem reimbursements for government employees conducting long-term temporary duty travel. He said the policy, which was implemented in 2014, threatens the ability of public naval shipyards, like Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, to effectively and efficiently conduct Navy ship maintenance, modernization and repair.

Pay increase for service members: The bill includes a 2.6% pay increase, supported by King, for members of the military.

Strengthening cyber deterrence: The bill includes language that outlines a cyber deterrence policy, to include providing offensive cyber response options to address the full range of potential cyber-attacks carried out by our adversaries against the United States. King said he has strongly advocated for a national cyber deterrence policy at Senate Armed Service Committee hearings.

Developing an Arctic strategy: King said he supported a provision that requires the Secretary of Defense to submit an updated Arctic strategy to improve and enhance joint military operations in that increasingly important strategic region.

Building icebreakers: King supported a provision authorizing the procurement of up to five polar-class icebreakers, including polar-class heavy icebreakers and polar-class medium icebreakers. King said he has long advocated for greater investment in building more icebreakers to ensure a stronger U.S. strategic presence in the Arctic.

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