The House voted to approve its $839 billion defense authorization bill that raises the topline for defense spending by $37 billion and signed off on major additions to the Department of the Navy’s budget.
In a 329-101 vote, the bill authorized 13 battle force ships for the service – five more than the Navy requested in this year’s budget request.
The bill authorizes an additional Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, a Constellation-class guided-missile frigate, a fleet oiler and two ambulance variants of the Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF). The bill also authorizes a 15-ship, multi-year destroyer contract.
The additions come on top of a requested two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, two Virginia-class attack boats, one Constellation-class frigate, one San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock, a John Lewis-class oiler and a Navajo-class towing, salvage and rescue ship.
“Our work ensured that this year’s NDAA delivers on behalf of our Navy with authorization for a record amount of shipbuilding and submarine construction, including full funding to continue work on the Navy’s number-one priority—the new Columbia-class submarine program—as well as the Virginia-class program, thirteen new battle force ships and other crucial support vessels,” House Armed Services seapower and projection forces chair Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.) said in a Thursday statement.
The bill authorizes the purchase of 64 F-35 Lighting II Joint Strike Fighters for the Air Force, Marines and Navy and eight additional F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.
The House also approved an amendment from Reps. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) and Jared Golden (D-Maine) increased the budget by $37 billion and saved five Freedom-class Littoral Combat Ships the Navy wanted to decommission.
A separate amendment from Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) requires the Navy to dispose of any decommissioned LCS via foreign military sale. Officials in Taiwan have expressed interest in acquiring the ships, Taiwan-based CNA reported in April.
“I continue to support efforts to expand our Navy fleet size and am particularly pleased to lead efforts opposing reckless Navy force structure reductions,” Wittman said in a Thursday statement.
The bill included a Wittman and Courtney-sponsored amendment set an amphibious ship count at 31. The total is in line with the minimum number of amphibs Marine commandant Gen. David Berger said the service needs for its new Force Design 2030.
The House also approved a Luria-led amendment to establish a national commission to review the future of the Navy.
“The commission will review the force structure of the Navy, with an emphasis on readiness, training, ship maintenance, shipbuilding, manning, and personnel,” reads a statement from Luria’s office.
The Senate is set to bring its authorization bill to a vote in September, reported Politico.