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Warner, Kaine tout Virginia defense dollars

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congressU.S. Sens.  Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine today applauded passage by the Senate Appropriations Committee of the $549.3 billion defense spending bill for fiscal year 2015, which includes funding for top defense priorities for Virginia.

The bill includes $848 million for the refueling and complex overhaul of the Norfolk-based aircraft carrier USS George Washington, something both senators have long advocated for. The bill also includes $853 million for development of the Ohio class submarine replacement program, which is partially constructed in newport news and affects thousands of Virginia jobs. Today’s appropriations bill also fully restores funding to operate military commissaries, as called for in bipartisanlegislation introduced by Sen. Warner and Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA).

“This is a real win for Virginia, our service men and women, military veterans and their families,” Sen. Warner said. “I’m particularly proud of the way Virginia’s bipartisan congressional delegation in the House and Senate worked together to ensure our defense priorities are funded.  All four congressional committees have now committed to restore funding for the USS George Washington, and affirmed the importance of an 11-carrier Navy. I’m also particularly glad to see that commissary funding has been restored, as senior members of each service testified that these cuts would have been particularly hard on young military families.”

“Today the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bipartisan defense spending bill that supports key priorities we have fought for this year, including the refueling and overhaul of the USS George Washington.  Together with the House Appropriations Committee and the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, all four key congressional committees have now signaled clear support for funding the GW,” said Kaine, a member of the Armed Services Committee whose amendment to the Committee’s defense bill paved the way for the Appropriations Committee to include this funding. “I’m also pleased the legislation restores funding for commissaries that our service members and their families rely on and fully funds the Virginia class submarine fleet. The Senate should act swiftly to pass this legislation.”

A list of Virginia priorities passed through the committee today is below:

Shipbuilding: Adds $848 million towards the USS George Washington (CVN 73) Refueling and Complex Overhaul. Funds the following programs: USS Gerald Ford (CVN 78) and USS John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) carrier construction programs, Virginia Class submarine program, Littoral Combat Ship program (adds $80 million for preservation of the block buy pricing), and $853 million for the Ohio class replacement program (in research and development).

Operations and Maintenance: Adds $33 million to ship depot maintenance accounts, critical to Virginia’s shipyards and the Navy’s readiness.  Provides $25 million to the STARBASE program, a Department of Defense Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) initiative.

Personnel Accounts:  Restores $200 million to maintain operations at commissaries.  Provides an additional $25 million for continuation and expansion of the Special Victims’ Counsel Program to provide victims of sexual assault with enhanced legal assistance and support.

Research and Development: Adds $30 million to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). Includes $7 million for research opportunities at the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU).

Procurement: Radford Army Ammunition Plant – Directs the Army to continue to report on Arsenal and Ammunition Plant Facility maintenance.  Requires a report on DoD Physical Access Control Systems, which is important for mitigating risks at installations, such as the Navy Yard or Naval Station Norfolk.

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