Submarine funding is restored in final version of defense bill
By JULIA BERGMAN | The Day, New London, Conn. | Published: December 4, 2020
NEW LONDON, Conn. (Tribune News Service) — House and Senate negotiators have reached a deal on a final version of a defense policy bill that restores funding for the construction of two Virginia-class submarines, built in Groton, and authorizes billions of dollars for Connecticut's defense industry.
The full U.S. House and Senate are expected to vote on the bill, which authorizes $740 million in national spending, early next week. The bill is expected to easily pass both chambers despite a threat this week by President Donald Trump to veto the measure.
Trump said via Twitter this week that he would veto the bill if it did not include a repeal of Section 230 of a 1996 federal law that protects internet companies from being held liable for material posted by their users. Both Republicans and Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., pushed back against Trump's threat, saying the law was a separate issue outside the realm of the defense policy bill.
Courtney, who helped negotiate the final version of the bill, was dealt a win with the restoration of funding to construct a second Virginia-class submarine, a fight he's waged since earlier this year after the Trump administration cut the second submarine from its fiscal 2021 budget proposal.
"I'm proud of the bipartisan support to reverse the administration's inadequate shipbuilding budget and authorize funding for a second Virginia-class submarine. This is a big win for our national security and for eastern Connecticut," Courtney said in a statement issued Thursday.
The bill authorizes billions for the Virginia-class submarine program, built in partnership between Electric Boat in Groton and Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia, and for the Columbia-class program to build the next generation of ballistic missile submarines.
Blumenthal, in a statement issued Thursday, also applauded the restoration of funding for the Virginia program in the final version of the bill and its inclusion of several provisions he authored, including the creation of a joint Department of Labor and Navy taskforce to assess trends within the shipbuilding workforce and ensure shipbuilders can benefit from existing Labor Department programs.
"This bill's critical investment in strategic defense tools — submarines, helicopters, and aircraft built in Connecticut — will keep our country secure, our troops supported, and our state's economy strong. Securing funding for two Virginia Class submarines is a standout victory," Blumenthal said.
(c)2020 The Day (New London, Conn.)
Visit The Day (New London, Conn.) at www.theday.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.