WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. House of Representatives passed the 2018 version of the National Defense Authorization Act on Friday, which will fund and set the policy goals for the country’s armed forces. Although it passed by a margin of 344 to 81, it still must be reconciled with the Senate version of the bill.
For Alabama, the bill funds the construction of three additional Littoral Combat Ships, which are manufactured by Austal in Mobile. The Littoral Combat Ship is a class of vessels used in operations close to shore (the littoral zone). They have been compared to Corvettes, built to swiftly move in fights with other vessels, as well as to hunt and destroy enemy submarines and mines. Most of the ships are constructed at a specialized production facility located in Mobile.
Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL1), represents the district where the ships are built. He is pleased that the bill continued to fund the program that he believes is instrumental to America’s national defense, but he wants to make sure the Senate’s bill does the same.
“As the Littoral Combat Ships spend more time deployed across the globe, more and more Members of Congress are realizing the important role the ships plan in the Navy’s overall mission,” Byrne said in a release. “I will always continue to be a strong advocate for the men and women at the Austal shipyard as we work to build toward a 355 ship Navy.”
In addition to paying for more LCS, the bill would fund a 10 percent increase in military spending, a 2.4 percent pay raise for the troops, new investments in missile defense systems, an increase in the the size of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Army Guard and Reserve, Naval and Air Reserve, and Air Guard, and improvements to military facilities with a focus on restoration.
“This bill is about ensuring the safety and security of the American people,” Byrne said. “The bipartisan defense authorization bill reforms, repairs, and rebuilds the United States military. The bill addresses the realities of the dangerous threat environment facing our nation and ensures our troops and their families have the necessary resources and benefits.”
Provisions of the bill will also help employees of the Anniston Army Depot in Rep. Mike Rogers’ (R-AL3) district. Rogers helped shape language in the NDAA that will extend the authority of the Department of Defense to pay depot employees deployed to combat zones an additional allowance and benefits due to the dangerous nature of their locations. Another provision would allow the Depot’s leadership to consider temporary and term employees for permanent positions when they become available, which allows for more flexibility to hire the best possible workers.
“The NDAA still has to go to conference committee with the Senate, but I am pleased with the legislation that passed the House and will continue to fight to make sure America’s military is robust and fully equipped,” Rogers said in a press release.