Blumenthal Applauds Wins for Connecticut In Senate-Passed National Defense Authorization Bill - Bringing the Bill One Step Closer to Being Signed Into Law

Critical investments in helicopters, submarines, & joint strike fighters secured by Blumenthal will support national security & thousands of Connecticut jobs & families

Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement on the Senate’s approval of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2024 conference report, which includes a number of significant provisions he championed to invest in Connecticut’s defense manufacturing workforce and enhance national security. The bill passed by a vote of 87-13 and will now be considered by the House of Representatives.
“Historic investments in defense platforms made in Connecticut show continued unshakable confidence in our state’s spectacular workforce. This strong bipartisan national security package protects against threats to America now, and in coming years. It underscores a strong commitment to bolstering advanced technologies—submarines, helicopters, and fighter jets—investing in workforce development, and taking care of our military families. I fought for the authorization of the trilateral AUKUS agreement –proving the world-class talent of our workforce in Groton constructing Virginia-class submarines,” said Blumenthal. “I am especially proud to have included provisions named in honor of Connecticut servicemembers – Sergeant First Class Michael Clark and Seaman Xavier Sandor – that will make critical improvements to the lives of military families and service men and women.”
As a member of the Committee tasked with crafting the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2024, Blumenthal championed the following provisions to increase jobs and support critical industries in Connecticut:
Delivering Impactful Investments to Connecticut’s Submarine Industrial Base: Blumenthal fiercely advocated for broad funding for Connecticut’s submarine industry that guarantees our nation’s strategic advantages in undersea warfare while growing Connecticut’s jobs and economy. Blumenthal secured:
  1. $5.8 billion to fund ongoing design and construction of the Columbia Class ballistic missile submarine, including $400 million for the submarine industrial base workforce development, shipyard infrastructure, supplier development, and technology opportunities that assist the growing demand for investment in these assets.
  2. $10.3 billion to fully fund two Virginia Class submarines in Fiscal Year 2024 and additional funding for advanced procurement of two ships in Fiscal Year 2025 and two ships in Fiscal Year 2026; an additional $244 million in industrial base analysis and sustainment support that will ensure continued growth for the submarine industrial base.
Bolstering Production of Cutting-Edge Helicopters: Blumenthal pushed for strong funding of helicopters, including the CH-53K King Stallion, HH-60W Combat Rescue Helicopter, UH-60M Black Hawk, and Future Vertical Lift Program. Funding of these programs supports continued investments in Sikorsky helicopters and countless other Connecticut businesses that support the helicopter industrial base. Blumenthal secured:
  1. $1.698 billion to fund a total of 16 CH-53K King Stallion Helicopters.
  2. $48 million for HH-60W capability upgrades and modernization developments.
  3. $669 million to fund 24 UH-60M Black Hawk Helicopters.
  4. $92 million in UH-60M advanced procurement funding.
  5. $153.1 million to fund 26 UH-60L and UH-60V Black Hawk Helicopters.
Increasing our F-35 Fleet: Blumenthal has prioritized the expansion of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, the only fifth generation fighter in production, which Connecticut’s Pratt and Whitney is the sole engine-manufacturer of. Blumenthal secured:
  1. $9.42 billion for 83 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters across the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps.
  2. $613 million in F-35 advance procurement funding.
Prioritizing Workforce Development: Blumenthal championed a provision that calls for the Department of Defense to leverage existing relationships with the Joint Defense Manufacturing Council to support workforce development. This effort will lead to additional research and development and increase workforce capacity in areas such as supply chain management and contested logistics.
Blumenthal also fought for key provisions to support servicemembers and improve defense policy, including:
Improving Living Conditions for Sailors: Blumenthal fought for inclusion of the Seaman Xavier Sandor Support Act, which would provide new rules, resources, and conditions for sailors when their ships are in for overhaul or refueling. Specifically, the measure would provide Sailors with a Basic Allowance for Housing and enhanced mental health services. The measure is named in honor of Seaman Recruit Xavier Sandor from Shelton, who passed away last year on the USS George Washington while it underwent extended maintenance overhaul in a shipyard.
Increasing Servicemember Pay: Blumenthal championed a 5.2 percent pay increase – the largest in decades – for our servicemembers and DOD civilians to recognize their sacrifice, impact, and contributions to our national defense.
Extending TRICARE Survivor Benefits for Guard and Reserve Families: Blumenthal secured a provision that would extend the timeline for survivor benefits for Guard and Reserve families from the current six-month window to three years. The measure is based on legislation Blumenthal introduced in honor of Sergeant First Class Michael Clark of Bolton, Connecticut, who died during a training exercise in Georgia last year. Under current law, survivors and their families only retain their health benefits for six months following the death of a servicemember. This provision would amend the existing law to provide parity for Guard and Reserve survivor benefits to that of active-duty personnel.  
Supporting Medical Care for Wounded Ukrainians: Blumenthal led the charge for language to expand a program established by a Blumenthal-led provision in last year’s NDAA to provide military trauma care for our allies in Ukraine. This provision would support treatment and rehabilitation for Ukrainians suffering from traumatic extremity injuries, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injuries, amputations, and other mental health conditions suffered as a result of Russian aggression.