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Fiscal Year 2019 NDAA Clears Congress

Moon over U.S. Capitol on Nov. 13, 2016. NASA Photo

The Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act passed the Senate and now set for the president’s signature. 

The NDAA authorizes a $717 billion national defense budget and several major policy changes for the military.

“I’m deeply proud that the Senate voted overwhelmingly today to pass the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019,” said a statement from Sen. John McCain, (R-Ariz.), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “This marks the earliest that Congress has completed the bill in over 40 years – a testament to the leadership of Senators Jack Reed and Jim Inhofe, along with Representatives Mac Thornberry and Adam Smith, who tirelessly worked through committee markups, floor consideration, and conference negotiations in a matter of months. I am proud that the Senate has once again moved the NDAA through regular order, and that bipartisanship and collaboration have become defining hallmarks of National Defense Authorization Act.”

Among the Department of Defense programs included in the NDAA, the bill authorizes several Navy and Marine Corps programs and policies, including:

  • $24.1 billion for shipbuilding, fully funding construction of 13 new battle force ships and accelerates funding for several future ship classes.
  • $2.3 billion to purchase 20 short takeoff and vertical landing F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters — the variant used by the Marine Corps.
  • $1.1 billion to purchase nine F-35C fighters, the arrested landing variants used by the Navy.
  • Authorizes multi-year contract authority for F/A-18 Super Hornets, EA-18G Growler aircraft and E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft.
  • Mandates several reforms to the surface warfare community, which are designed to correct some of the factors believed to have contributed to the death of 17 sailors in two separate collisions involving guided-missile destroyers and merchant ships in 2017.
  • A revamp of the way the Navy and other service branches can recruit and promote officers.
  • Production of several munition lines, including Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM), Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile Extended Range (JASSM-ER), the MK-48 torpedo, and the Harpoon missiles.
  • Prohibits China’s navy is from participating in future Rim of the Pacific naval exercises unless a waiver is granted by the Secretary of Defense. China’s invitation to the 2018 RIMPAC was revoked earlier this year because of the nation’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea.

  • airider

    Great, now let’s cancel the August recess and get Congress back to get the appropriation bill passed before the end of the Fiscal Year.

    • Duane

      Senate and House leaders say the defense appropriation bills are on track for passage by next month, which would be the first time in many years a CR won’t be necessary. That alone would be a big assist, regardless of the specific provisions of the NDAA.

      • NavySubNuke

        I’m not holding my breath — no one should ever expect a group of politicians to do the right for the country at any time and especially not in an election year — but that would be a tremendous victory for all of DoD should it actually occur.

  • proudrino

    I’m glad we got to this point relatively drama free without the typical petty partisan attacks from the left. I’m less thrilled that Congress has decided to dictate how SWOs are trained, how long the Navy can forward deploy a vessel, or who gets to attend RIMPAC. This is unprecedented meddling.

    • NavySubNuke

      Unprecedented is a bit strong.
      It is hard to say anything is more meddlesome to the military than Goldwater-Nicholos.

      • proudrino

        Fair enough but I would argue that Goldwater-Nichols was a push in the right direction. The services are still fundamentally stovepipes BUT there is some cross-contamination (or pollination, depending on your outlook). Jointness is more theory than practice but the acquisition and budget requirements processes are done in a joint process. That isn’t a bad thing.

    • Marc

      While I don’t like Congress dictating SWO Policy, and I’m worried they will next pass a law about how to dig a fox hole, I’m more worried about some of the wasted things, like more LCS ships just to keep 2 yards busy, and wasting money on Trumps Washington Parade while Training our Military and Family Funding still needs more resources.

    • Duane

      I believe that the SWO language is not a requirement for anything but a study of the effect of two-tracking surface officers into SWOs and Engineers. Navy leadership opposes it, and the resulting study is unlikely to contradict the uniforms. It’s a gentle noodge, not a directive. Primarily coming from John McCain. His longevity is in doubt so it’s not likely to go anywhere.

      • proudrino

        I believe you are wrong. There is the two track issue. But there are other components including the idea that SWOs need to log their hours just like the aviators. No study is all that intrusive when it comes to Congressional oversight but when Congress decides to weigh in on monitoring Ensign Timmy’s hours on the bridge- that’s a different matter.

        The idea logging SWO hours may have merit but the policy and subsequent procedures should come from the Navy, not Congress. Imagine the squealing if the Executive Branch decided that Congress should start logging the number of hours the Congresscritters were actually working.

        • Duane

          It is Federal law that all aviator pilot hours be logged as a basis of determining qualifications for airmen’s certificates. It is shocking that OOD hours are not logged too for the same purpose The US Navy has had 243 years to figure that out and didn’t get it done. Congress is hardly being impatient when it has to explain to taxpayers virtually inexplicable multi hundred million dollar fatal collisions, and two multi billion dollar warships taken out of action for more than a year at a time when naval threats are multiplying and naval budgets are growing fast.

          If the Navy doesn’t take care of business, then the Congress will take action.

          • proudrino

            Congress isn’t being impatient, they are being intrusive. And your contention that the Navy had 243 years to “figure it out” shows that you are ignorant of history. Or can you point us where John Paul Jones logged his OOD hours? Farragut? Nimitz? Somehow the Navy managed to operate without this feature for 242 years without a systemic problem. The Navy deserves the chance to figure this out without Congressional intervention . But like a true lefty, you don’t see any problem that can be solved without regulation, legislation, or intrusiveness.

          • Duane

            When safety declines as it iobviously did with the surface fleet, changes are required to fix it. This has nothing to do with your silly, stupid left-right political model Most real peiple who live real world lives are neither lefties nor righties. I am one of the vast majority who reject your radicalism and prefer to let common sense prevail.

            Guess what, one of your crazy Trump rallies filled witj Q-Anon t-shirts and MAGA hats does not look like America. We Americans are mostly very practical minded people who are not obscessed with weird conspiracy theories and tinfoil hats

  • Lazarus

    Three LCS as well!

    • leesea

      Except the USN didn’t Want 3 more LCS nor does the Navy need them!
      This is was a congressional plus-up, pure and simple.

      • Lazarus

        Yes, the Navy wanted only 1 this year but block buy costs are much lower and the Navy needs more ships in general.

        • leesea

          I have it on good authority that the Navy wanted to stop at 28

          • Lazarus

            Some perhaps but the service can not afford more capable SSC’s.