Golden Secures Maine Priorities in Defense Funding Bill
WASHINGTON — Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02) helped secure important provisions for America’s national security, Maine shipyard workers, National Guardsmen, universities, and manufacturers in the defense funding bill that passed out of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) early this morning. Golden pushed for a number of Maine priorities in the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), including one that guarantees the construction of at least one Arleigh Burke-class DDG-51 destroyer at Bath Iron Works.
“Maine shipbuilders play a critical role in our national security,” Congressman Golden said. “I worked to ensure this legislation includes funding to continue Bath Iron Works’ proud tradition of building the highest-quality ships in the world, including at least one additional Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, continued work on the Zumwalt-class destroyer, and the opportunity to compete for the new Navy frigate. These provisions will help keep good shipbuilding jobs in Maine and support the growth of our workforce and economy.”
Golden and his colleagues pushed for three DDG-51 ships to be included in the bill, an increase over previous projections of two of the ships for FY2020. The addition of the third DDG-51 ensures that at least one of the destroyers will be built at Bath Iron Works.
Golden also helped secure a provision in the NDAA that makes federal funds available to Bangor Air National Guard Base and other National Guard facilities for the cleanup of dangerous per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals. PFAS chemicals have been used on military installations for several decades as a firefighting material, but have since been linked to heightened cancer risk, birth defects, developmental delays in children, and other serious health concerns. Right now, National Guard facilities like the one in Bangor do not have access to federal funds to perform PFAS remediation.
Golden also worked to include other Maine priorities in this year’s NDAA, including:
DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class Upgrades and Maintenance: This provision funds additional maintenance on DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class Guided-missile Destroyer. The provision ensures BIW, as a partner of the DDG-1000 program, can continue its work on the ships.
The FFG(X) Frigate Shipbuilding Program: This provision funds the production of the FFG(X) Guided Missile Frigate Shipbuilding Program. The program looks to build a class of 20 FGG(X) frigates over the next 10 years, and BIW is one of four remaining competitors for that contract.
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program: This provision funds the purchase of 24 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. Hunting Dearborn, which employs more than 250 people in the Fryeburg area, manufactures components for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Additionally, the NDAA funded the purchase of new CH-53K King Stallion helicopters, components for which are also manufactured at Hunting Dearborn’s Fryeburg location.
Research at the University of Maine: These provisions fund important research performed at the University of Maine and other institutions, including research into cutting edge composites, thermoplastics, lasers, and other materials.
Studying the Shipbuilding Workforce: The provision directs the Navy to prepare the next generation of shipbuilders to successfully achieve a 355-ship fleet. The plan would examine the time and investment required for shipbuilders to maintain shipbuilding proficiency and demographics in the industry, and provide recommendations on how to address the gap between levels of experience in the industry, on the best training practices for future shipbuilders, and on how to encourage young people to enter the industry.
The FY2020 NDAA also includes:
- A 3.1% pay raise for servicemembers;
- A tenant bill of rights that protects families in privatized military housing. Earlier this year, Golden joined a bipartisan call for action to address reports of unsafe lead and mold levels in private military housing; and
- Measures to protect the American military from cyber threats.
With HASC’s passage of the NDAA, the legislation will now head to the House floor for a vote before the full body.
Congressman Golden is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, where he sits on Seapower and Projection Forces and Tactical Air and Land Subcommittees.