Every year, Congress passes the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which sets the budget for the Department of Defense (DOD), nuclear weapons program of the Department of Energy, DOD elements of the intelligence community and other defense activities in other departments. It also offers defense policy and restrictions as well as addressing administrative issues in the armed forces.
The president typically puts forth a budget proposal, which includes proposed defense spending, every February. The House and the Senate then hold hearings with senior DOD leadership to look at the defense budget needs, and then committees in both chambers work for the next few months to craft legislation addressing our nation’s defense budget needs for the following year.
This year, the process was significantly delayed, but the House and the Senate have now passed their respective bills. When President Biden proposed the fiscal year 2022 defense budget, I was disappointed to see the proposed funding did not even keep up with inflation. This means we would technically be decreasing the amount of money we are spending to keep America safe and protect our interests around the world. With ever-increasing threats from foes like Russia and China, it is simply unacceptable to allow our armed forces to fall behind.
Fortunately, I sit on the House Armed Services Committee, which has jurisdiction over the defense budget. Many of my colleagues (on both sides of the aisle) were concerned with President Biden’s defense budget proposal, so we got to work adjusting the budget to reflect the needs our country has. Congressman Mike Rogers, from Calhoun County, AL, added $25 billion to the defense budget to meet some serious needs we have, plus I worked with my Republican and Democrat friends to add $540 million to the bill, which added two ships for Austal USA in Mobile. President Biden’s budget included zero ships for south Alabama, so I am extremely proud to have pushed back and successfully secured these two additional ships.
The ships we build here in south Alabama are a huge part of our national defense. We have been a leader in shipbuilding for many decades, and Austal USA is continuing to grow that legacy. The addition of these two ships not only brings good-paying jobs to our district, but it is also a critical step to keeping our nation protected. I will continue working to ensure our military is fully funded, while also ensuring our men and women in uniform have the best tools at their disposal to protect and defend the United States of America.
Jerry Carl represents Alabama’s First Congressional District. He lives in Mobile with his wife Tina.