Larsen Votes for Defense Policy Bill That Makes Important Investments in Northwest Washington

Dec 4, 2014 Issues: Supporting our Naval Bases

WASHINGTON—Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, today voted for and the House of Representatives passed the bipartisan final version of the annual defense policy bill, the Carl Levin and Howard P. ‘Buck’ McKeon National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015. The bill contains key provisions that continue to invest in vital assets in Northwest Washington, while strengthening U.S. national defense. Larsen is a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee.

“This bill demonstrates the importance of the Pacific Northwest to national defense by investing in construction, manufacturing, and military bases in our region. Bases on the Pacific Coast are vital to our country’s pivot to the Asia-Pacific region as a focus for security and economic interests.

“I am also pleased the bill contains full funding the for KC-46A tanker program, one of the Air Force’s top three priorities. I fought hard to get the tanker program into the hands of the best aerospace workers in the world – the Machinists of Puget Sound, and I fought successfully for full funding.

“However, there are many ways this legislation could be improved. It fails to make progress towards closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. And it fails to take on the budgetary challenge of sequestration that Congress imposed upon the Pentagon. Congress is unwilling to make cuts to military programs that have outlived their usefulness, and I would like to see us make decisions that reshape national security policy to meet 21st century challenges.

“I have also heard from veterans and military families concerned about cuts to their benefits, and I understand their concern. The Pentagon has proposed a number of budget cuts to stick within sequestration limits, but Congress has rejected them. Unfortunately, if Congress continues to fail to address sequestration, the limited cuts in this bill are a harbinger of tougher choices to come.

“While the bill is not perfect, it is an important bipartisan compromise that defines our country’s national defense for the coming year,” Larsen said.

Some provisions in the bill include:

  • Funds the acquisition of seven KC-46 tankers, which are manufactured at Boeing’s Everett facility.
  • Funds five EA-18G Growler aircraft.
  • Funds the acquisition of eight P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft. The Navy has decided to base six P-8A squadrons at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI).
  • Funds construction to provide important improvements at NASWI.
  • Supports an 11 aircraft carrier fleet by funding the midlife refueling and overhaul of the USS George Washington.
  • Provides a 1% pay increase for the men and women of the military, while freezing basic pay for General and Flag officers.
  • Funds efforts to secure nuclear material worldwide, work Larsen has long supported.

The bill now moves to the Senate for its consideration.