WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Senate today voted 89-8 to approve the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018.  The NDAA authorizes funding to equip, supply, and train our troops and support military families.  Overall, the 2018 NDAA includes $610.87 billion in discretionary spending for defense base budget requirements and $60.2 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations.  It also includes $21 billion for national security programs of the U.S. Department of Energy.

U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, played a key role in crafting and passing the legislation, working alongside Chairman John McCain (R-AZ).

“Congress needs to work together for the common good and the common defense.  This bill will help us meet evolving national security challenges today and in the future.  I want to thank Chairman McCain for his leadership, his unwavering devotion to the men and women of the Armed Forces and their families, and for all the hard work he has done to bring us to this point,” said Reed.  “While we still have a ways to go, passing this bill in the Senate is an important step toward setting a strategic course and making needed investments in our national defense.  Moving forward, more work needs to be done.  It is clear we need to find a sustainable, equitable path forward that will end sequestration and provide the additional resources needed for our current readiness shortfalls. I look forward to working together to continue to address the needs of our nation and our servicemembers.”

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:

  • $6.4 billion for the Virginia-class submarine program, including 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;
  • $264.47 million for the DDG-1000 Zumwalt destroyer program;
  • $81.09 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
  • $25 million in supplemental Impact Aid and $10 million in Impact Aid for schools with military dependent children with severe disabilities.

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 $141.5 billion for military personnel and $33.7 billion for the Defense Health Program; permanently extends the Special Survivor Indemnity Allowance; 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 separate versions of the NDAA have been approved by both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives,

both houses of Congress will come together for a conference committee to resolve differences between the bills.  The conference committee must agree on a single conference report, which is then submitted to each chamber.  The conference report must be approved by both the House and the Senate before it may be sent to the President to be signed into law.