The House of Representatives passed the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Thursday, including an amendment protecting three Virginia-based guided missile cruisers from decommissioning.
“Countering China’s expansionist ambitions starts at sea,” Congressman Rob Wittman (R-VA-01) said in a press release Friday. “As the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, I am proud to secure authorization for an additional five ships, bringing us to a total of 13, and the retention of three capable cruisers. These ships are not only necessary to deter Chinese aggression but will bring good-paying jobs to Virginia and grow our economy. Many of these ships are built, maintained, and repaired in Virginia. In turn, each of these ships represents another economic boon for our Commonwealth.”
Both Wittman and Representative Elaine Luria (D-VA-02) fought for the House version to keep the cruisers. Luria is the House Armed Services Committee vice-chair. After the amendment passed out of the committee earlier in September, she said in a release, “In Coastal Virginia, we are proud to live in a community that plays a leading role of the defense of this nation. With the situation unfolding in Afghanistan, it was necessary for the House to pass a defense budget that projects strength, is forward-thinking, and, above all, treats our servicemen and women with dignity and respect.”
Wittman and Luria touted other benefits for Virginia in the bill, including funding for military construction projects in Dahlgren and continued aircraft carrier construction in Newport News.
His release said the bill also “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.”
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.
“Vice Chair Luria was a vocal critic of President Biden’s proposed defense budget, routinely pressing Pentagon leaders on the decision to decommission 15 ships that would shrink America’s Naval fleet in the face of a growing Chinese Navy, while prioritizing investments in unproven technology that will not be realized for years,” Luria’s release states.
Virginia Congressmen Tout EMBRACE Stormwater Management Act in NDAA
Wittman, Luria, and Representative Bobby Scott (D-VA-03) said the NDAA includes an amendment to “implement stormwater management best practices to reduce flooding on and around military bases.”
In a joint press release, Scott said, “The Department of Defense recognizes climate change as the ‘threat multiplier’ that it is and this bill will help the military address the growing need to manage stormwater and ensure readiness. Green infrastructure features – like permeable pavement and rain gardens – both reduce flooding on and around military bases and protect the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.”
Wittman said, “Flooding and severe weather have caused billions of dollars in damage to military installation in the United States. We have two choices: we can continue to allow flooding to cause damage and reduce readiness, or we can prevent and mitigate damage before it happens. I choose the latter.”
“Rising sea levels are threatening military readiness and put the health and safety of coastal communities like Hampton Roads at risk,” Luria said. “Implementing stormwater management best practices will allow our military bases to more effectively deal with the effects of climate change while preventing one of the biggest unchecked pollutants from entering the Chesapeake Bay.”
On Wednesday the NDAA moved out of the Senate Armed Services Committee, but the Senate as a whole needs to vote on it, and then the two versions will go into conference to develop a compromise.
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