A major defense bill passed out of the House Armed Services Committee Thursday, with spending for Virginia.
Congressman Rob Wittman (R-VA-01) said Republicans led an effort to include an amendment that, in part protects three guided-missile cruisers based in Virginia from decommissioning. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022 passed 57 to two. It includes a top-line spending level of $740 billion, up from President Joe Biden’s proposed $715 billion, according to Defense News.
“While defense is often and rightfully viewed as a national priority, here in Virginia, this additional funding fuels economic growth and the creation of jobs. This growth will further translate to funding for state priorities such as roads, schools, and law enforcement. With many of these ships built, maintained and repaired in Virginia, the Commonwealth’s economy especially stands to benefit from the passage of the FY22 NDAA,” Wittman said in a press release.
Wittman is the vice-ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee and ranking member of the Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee. His press release says the bill “sets the stage to expand procurement to three Virginia-class submarines per year–which are built in Virginia. Three Virginia-class submarines per year will put America on track to meet our shipbuilding goals. With this certainty in workload, Huntington Ingalls Industry in Norfolk, VA will expand to provide substantial skilled employment opportunities for Virginians. [It secures] funds to continue aircraft carrier construction, also built in Norfolk.”
It also authorizes funding for constructing a Cyber Threat and Weapon Systems Complex and a High Powered Electric Weapons Laboratory in Dahlgren.
Representative Elaine Luria (D-Virginia-02) is vice-chair of the House Armed Services Committee. She has spoken in favor of continuing to fund the three cruisers and supported the expanded spending proposal. “This will mean jobs in Hampton Roads,” she said according to The Daily Press.
In July, the Senate Armed Services Committee passed its own markup of the NDAA, which does not include spending on the three cruisers. Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) serves on that committee. He touted 14 military construction projects in Virginia worth $795 million. Both bills now need to be approved by their respective legislative bodies and legislators need to work out a compromise between the two versions.
The Navy is shifting towards the Pacific amid rising concerns about China and Russia. But Virginia’s congressional delegation is concerned that pivot could harm Virginia’s economy as well as the Navy’s ability to respond to crises in the Atlantic and the Persian Gulf. In May, Wittman led the delegation in writing a letter to chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday.
“The positioning of our fleet must not only consider the imminent and intermediate threats we face, but the long-term economic successes of the United States that rely on secure operations. The Port of Virginia remains a critical economic asset, and Norfolk-based ships protect both this and the Port of New York, among other economic entities,” they wrote.
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