What good will the new defense and budget bills bring to Maine?
The $585 billion defense and budget bill was passed by the Senate on December 12 which authorizes Department of Defense spending on various programs around the world, including the manufacturing programs for ships and aircraft in Maine for the year 2015.
Beneficiaries Of NDA Act In Maine
Likely to benefit from the NDA Act (National Defense Authorization) bills are Maine’s potato growers, the Navy shipyards, and defense contractors. Even the York River stands to gain from this bill. The NDA is set to equip Pentagon with funding and programs for fiscal year 2015.
The bill amount – $585 billion, is the result of weeks of talks between the Senate and House Armed Services committees. For its part, the House passed its version of the NDA Act earlier this year while there’s no version for the Senate. The NDA Act is one of the few must-pass pieces of legislation that Congress never fails to renew on time, which they had passed for 52 consecutive years.
The NDA Act sets guidelines which appropriators should use to determine spending for the Pentagon. It doesn’t appropriate any money. What it does is govern how many troops are in the Armed Forces and how much they are paid and what benefits they get; how many and which weapons to buy, or scrap as well as how ongoing operations are conducted – referring to the Afghan war and the ISIS conflict in Iraq. In addition, lawmakers used the defense bill as a vehicle to pass a massive public lands package which included:
- designation of new national parks and wilderness areas
- expediting the permit process for oil and gas drilling
- other measures related to minerals and energy
Out of the $585 billion budget, $521.3 billion in base discretionary spending is allocated for the Department of Defense’s activities and another $63.7 billion for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq where $5 billion should go for the fight against the Islamic extremists. Troops can also expect to receive a 1% pay increase.
How does Maine figure out in this NDA Act? Here’s a list of benefits which Maine can expect from the defense budget bill:
Navy Destroyers To Receive Over $3 Billion From The Defense Budget
Under the approved bill, a budget of $2.7 billion is set for two new Navy destroyers, specifically Arleigh Burke-class DDG-51. One of these two destroyers will be constructed at BIW – a major American shipyard that builds private and military vessels, battleships, cruisers, frigates and Arleigh Burke class surface warships. An additional funding of $419 million is allocated for Zumwalt-class destroyers (DDG-1000) that are being built at BIW. This will have a significant impact on the estimated 5,600 BIW employees. BIW is by far one of the largest employers in Maine.
According to Sen. Angus King, the bill recognizes the thousands of Mainers like those at BIW who work hard day in and day out to support the country’s defense and national security missions that they will play a significant role as the Armed Forces continue to confront threats across the globe and protect national interests. Sen. King is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. BIW is currently working on five destroyers under construction in the shipyard.
Potato Growers In Maine
Potatoes are finally back on the menu of a major federal nutritional program. White potatoes have been excluded since 2009 from the list of eligible vegetables and fruits within the nutrition program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), run by the Department of Agriculture. And after longs years of fighting, members of Congress from Maine, Idaho and Colorado – all potato-growing states were able to reverse the USDA potato snub. Included in the $1.1 trillion budget is a provision that would allow participants of the WIC to purchase fresh, white potatoes along with other fresh vegetables.
Funding For Fighter Jets
Also included in the defense bill is a $6 billion budget for 38 extra F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets. Maine happens to have several defense contractors supply parts for the F-35 fighter jet, from the engine components, semiconductors to fastening components such as low carbon steel washers.
Pratt & Whitney has an 877,000 square-foot manufacturing plant in North Berwick where engine components for the F-35 Lightning II are made. Other defense contractors that make parts for the F-35 and will benefit from the defense bill are:
- Fairchild Semiconductor
- Hunting Dearborn, Inc.
- General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems
There is also $498 million allocated for F-15 and F-16 engines, 25% of the parts of which will be built at the Maine facility of Pratt & Whitney.
Riding on the defense bill as non-defense items is a public lands package that involves national parks and wilderness areas. This lands package also authorizes a three-year study of York River to determine if it should be included in the National Wild and Scenic River program. The program should protect the river’s natural, cultural and recreational values. If designated, York River would be managed by the state government, local communities and the National Park Service. And this could open the door for more funding opportunities such as wildlife and fish habitat restoration.
With all these in line, should Maine not have reason to be happy about the approved defense bill?
2 thoughts on “Congress Defense And Budget Bills: What’s In It For Maine?”
I can’t help but notice that there are lots of developments with regard to the U.S. Department of Defense spending. It’s as if the U.S. military is bolstering their military might, not only to maintain their technological supremacy, but also to prepare for some impending war. They have been unusually aggressive in the last decade or more. Those that are privy to ancient prophecies know that we are living in critical times and that a great world war is invevitable.
I wouldn’t ever think of the Department of Defense or their budget and agriculture of any sort in the same conversation. I would not have made any connection between the defense budget and the state of Maine and certainly not potato crops. In any case, I am all for some of the budget being allotted toward preserving wildlife and their natural habitat. We have enough concrete jungles throughout the country and we need to have some sort of balance. Otherwise, if we carelessly build upon more and more natural habitats, we’ll not only impinge on wildlife and they on us, but we’ll harm our own natural resources.
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