WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the House-Senate conference committee reached bicameral agreement on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018.  U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), along with SASC Chairman John McCain (R-AZ) and U.S. Representatives Mac Thornberry (R-TX) and Adam Smith (R-WA), Chairmen and Ranking Members of the House Armed Services Committees (HASC), led the effort to iron out differences between the two respective defense policy bills passed earlier this year by the House and Senate.  The reconciled FY 2018 NDAA authorizes $692.2 billion for the Department of Defense and for national security programs of the U.S. Department of Energy. 

“This bipartisan agreement sets national security priorities and authorizes needed investments to bolster our national defense.   I commend Chairman McCain, Chairman Thornberry, Ranking Member Smith, and all my colleagues who worked together for the common defense,” said Senator Reed.  “This bill will help us meet evolving national security challenges today and in the future.  I am encouraged by the bipartisan progress we made in conference.  The critical next step is for Senate and House leadership to work together on a sequestration fix.  We must end sequestration and provide additional resources so we can have a strong defense and a strong economy that works for all Americans.”

The NDAA includes a number of key provisions and reforms that were backed by Reed to enhance national security, support our service members, increase military readiness, and reform the defense acquisition process. 

Reed also led efforts to include language in the bill to strengthen cyber operations, naval readiness, and submarine production, which is a vital part of Rhode Island’s defense industry.  Reed helped ensure the bill continues the construction of two Virginia-class submarines per year, which is critical given the cost savings achieved, the efficiencies gained in the production schedule, and the projected shortfall in attack submarines over the next decade.

A number of Rhode Island-related projects and priorities are included in this bipartisan legislation, including:

  • $5.9 billion for the Virginia-class submarine program, which is $698 million more than the budget request, in order to provide additional economic order quantity funding and advance procurement for the next block of ships.  The bill supports the ten boat, multi-year contract that the Navy and Electric Boat signed in April 2014;
  • $1.6 billion to fully support the Ohio-class Replacement Program;
  • $264.4 million for the DDG-1000 Zumwalt destroyer program;
  • $81 million to accelerate undersea warfare applied research;
  • $10 million for the procurement of an additional surveillance towed array sensor system that detects stealth submarines, a priority for the Navy; and
  • $40 million in supplemental Impact Aid and $10 million in Impact Aid for schools with military dependent children with severe disabilities.

Reed successfully worked on a bipartisan basis to reauthorize the Defense Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (DEPSCoR) program to expand the number of universities capable of working with the Pentagon on advanced research and enhance our nation’s ability to respond to the ever-changing threats our Armed Forces face.  This program will broaden participation in developing defense research capabilities in states like Rhode Island that have been historically underserved by federal research and development (R&D) funding.

In recognition of the important work of the Defense Institute of the International Legal Studies in Newport, Rhode Island, the bill requires the Secretary of Defense to review the Institute’s mission, workforce, funding, and support to determine whether they are appropriately aligned to enable the Institute to carry out its activities to strengthen the rule of law in partner nations’ militaries and build defense legal institutions.  

The NDAA also reflects other priorities backed by Senator Reed to sustain and improve the quality of life for our men and women in uniform and their families.  The bill authorizes $141.8 billion for military personnel and $33.7 billion for the Defense Health Program; permanently extends the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance while authorizing cost-of-living increases going forward; and enhances military family readiness by addressing the shortage of qualified-child care workers and by increasing flexibility for military families undergoing permanent changes of station.

Now that the NDAA conference report has been agreed to by members of the conference committee, it must be voted on and passed by both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives.

The NDAA authorizes the expenditure of public funds and then the Appropriations Committee must determine the final level of defense spending.  Senator Reed is a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.