Congress restores advance funds for Virginia-class sub program
GROTON, Conn. — Congress has reversed the Defense Department’s decision to delay the purchase of one Virginia-class submarine.
The Senate restored $778 million in advance procurement funding to the National Defense Authorization Act so the Navy could purchase two Virginia-class submarines in 2014. The $631 billion defense bill passed 98 to 0 Tuesday night.
Because the House of Representatives also included the funding in its version of the bill, it is effectively locked in for the final NDAA. Both versions also give the Navy the contracting authority for a five-year block, from 2014 to 2018, of up to 10 new submarines instead of capping the total at nine.
The Virginia-class program should receive a total of $4.9 billion, including $3.2 billion to build two submarines in 2013 and $1.7 billion to purchase parts with long lead times for two submarines in 2014 and 2015.
The president’s proposed budget had called for building one Virginia-class submarine in 2014 instead of two, and two submarines in 2018 instead of one to save money now.
The bill also rejects the administration’s request for new rounds of base closures in 2013 and 2015. The Naval Submarine Base in Groton was nearly closed during the 2005 round. It authorizes a 1.7 percent pay raise for military personnel.
Both Connecticut senators said the bill supports defense programs that are critical to Connecticut. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said the bill means “more jobs and economic growth for our state as it supports weapons and defense products made in Connecticut by Connecticut workers.”
But Sen. Joe Lieberman cautioned that the “Senate’s work on defense is not completed with the passage of this bill.” Congress has until the end of the year to prevent $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts — known as sequestration — from taking effect Jan. 1.
Lieberman said the cuts “will do significant damage to our national security if they are implemented” and he will work with his colleagues “to ensure we avert the fiscal cliff while sparing further cuts to America’s defense.”