Saturday, December 6, 2014

House passes Defense Reauthorization: Trident gets full funding

The House of Representatives passed the massive ($584 billion) FY 2015 Defense Reauthorization Bill. Of that money, $1.8 billion (fully funded) will go to continuing research and development for the next generation ballistic missile submarine to replace the current Trident (OHIO Class) fleet. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, says (among other things) that this bill "strengthens our economy in Eastern Connecticut." Of course, what Courtney avoids talking about is the huge risk to the U.S. economy, and in fact the global economy, from any use of nuclear weapons.

Building a new generation of Trident as well as other new nuclear weapons systems practically guarantees a future in which at some point these horrific weapons will be used. At that point, all bets are off. Depending on scope of use as well as the geographic area(s) directly and indirectly affected, regional economies and the global economy will be affected.  

But we should digress for a moment from economic factors, which so many supporters (particularly those in Congress) like to cite in pushing new nuclear weapons systems. Beyond the economic devastation of even a limited nuclear war, the effects on the environment that sustains civilization will be unimaginable. Among them will likely be limited or total collapse of civilization as we know it.

If our members of Congress truly represent the people, they need to think beyond short term economic stimulus for their districts and begin to look at the long-term good of the people who (we hope) will be here after we have gone (hopefully leaving things a little better rather than much worse).

Think about that as you read the following article announcing this past week's House vote. What are our priorities???


House passes $584B Defense Reauthorization Bill, includes $5.9B for sub construction

By Adam Benson
The Norwich Bulletin
(860) 908-7004
Posted Dec. 4, 2014 @ 9:39 pm

Electric Boat's multi-billion dollar contract for the continued construction of Virginia-class submarines was approved by the U.S. House Thursday as part of a $584 billion defense reauthorization bill, winning praise from regional economic development officials and the state's congressional delegation.

The measure, which sailed through the House on a 300-119 vote, heads to the Senate next week where it is expected to be approved.

“The kind jobs that come from producing the most sophisticated vessels in the world create an enormous amount of wealth for this area,” Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut President and CEO Tony Sheridan said. “We are a maritime community, and this kind of support from the federal government continues a long-standing tradition in Eastern Connecticut.”

Highlights of the bill include the authorization of $5.9 billion for the Virginia class submarine program, including $3.6 billion for two boats in 2015. The measure also fully supports the Block IV multi-year submarine contract completed earlier this year, which calls for 10 submarines to be built over the next five years.

A $1.3 billion budgetary request to continue research and development of the Ohio class ballistic missile submarine replacement is also included in the bill, as is $133 million for the continued development of the Virginia class payload module.

“Despite a challenging fiscal climate, this bill maintains strong investments in our undersea fleet, including continued two-a-year production of Virginia-class submarines, and full funding for the Ohio replacement program and the Virginia payload module,” said U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District and a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “The unrivaled work of the men and women of Electric Boat has inspired confidence in these programs for the future. This bill underscores our commitment to maintaining the best submarine fleet in the world, and strengthens our economy in Eastern Connecticut.”

And, if the Senate adopts the legislateon in its current form, there would be no base realignment and closure round in 2017.

Chris Zendan, a spokesman for the Naval submarine base in Groton, said Thursday the Navy doesn’t comment on pending legislation.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. said he is ready to support the bill in the Senate.
“I will fight strongly for approval of this very significant measure for Connecticut and our national security when it reaches the Senate next week,” Blumenthal said. “I am particularly pleased the Congress has recognized the contributions made by our Connecticut workforce to our national security by approving the products and weapons systems made in our state.”

John Beauregard, executive director of the Franklin-based Eastern Connecticut Workforce Investment Board, said keeping the region’s military sector operating at existing levels helps stabilize an economy that has been gaining traction in recent months.

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