King Announces Provisions Critical to Maine in Defense Bill, Including HUBZone Improvements
2016 NDAA includes King-authored measures investing in shipbuilding, improving HUBZone program
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today announced that the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report, which was released today, contains several policy and funding provisions important to Maine and its economy, including several he authored as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The final conference report, which reconciles the differences between the Senate and House versions of the bill, includes King-authored measures supporting shipbuilding, the redevelopment of former military installations such as Brunswick Naval Air Station, and a good governance provision relating to unused or under-used Army properties.
“This bill is a reflection of our defense priorities as a nation and it clearly demonstrates that Maine continues to play an irreplaceable role in supporting our national security interests,” Senator King said. “The bill’s investment in shipbuilding, including the additional $400 million authorization for destroyer procurement, will bolster our nation’s naval forces and support the hardworking men and women of Bath Iron Works who build the best, most advanced naval ships in the world.”
More specifically, the bill authorizes almost $4 billion for Navy destroyer programs, including $433 million for the construction of DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class destroyers, and $3.1 billion for the procurement of two DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, one of which will be built at Bath. The bill also includes $400 million in incremental funding secured by Senator King for an additional DDG-51 that the Navy could procure in the next three years, potentially at Bath Iron Works.
The bill also includes a King provision that improves the eligibility criteria of HUBZones located at former U.S. military installations closed through the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. The provision expands the boundaries of base closure HUBZones to allow businesses to draw employees from surrounding areas to meet the program’s 35 percent employee residency requirement. The amendment would also extend the period of time for which a closed base is eligible for HUBZone status from five years after closure to a minimum of eight years.
“This bill takes a significant step forward in improving the HUBZone program for rural communities,” Senator King said. “By revamping the eligibility criteria, towns and cities that have been hit hard by base closures will be better positioned to revitalize those former bases, jumpstart economic development, attract businesses, and create new jobs.”
The bill also includes a federal property management provision that authorizes a pilot program spearheaded by Senator King and Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) that would encourage more efficient federal property management by streamlining the process by which the U.S. Army disposes of unused or underutilized properties. It also rejects another BRAC round.
The 2016 NDAA authorizes funding for the Department of Defense as well as national security programs under the Department of Energy and is based substantially on the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016, which passed on May 15th by a vote of 269 – 151; and the Senate version which passed with the support of Senator King on June 18th by a vote of 71 – 25. The two bills were merged through a series of negotiations led by the leadership of the two committees. The resulting conference report is expected to be considered by the House and Senate in the near future.
The legislation provides for the pay and benefits earned by members of the military and their families, provides for national defense including authorization of funds for counter-ISIL operations in Iraq and Syria, and represents a broad, bipartisan consensus about America’s national security goals, resources, and policies.