Tuesday, March 11, 2014
A federal spending bill unveiled Monday night includes $100 million necessary for the Navy to move forward with a contract on an additional Maine-built destroyer.
The money will help the Navy close a funding shortfall for an Arleigh Burke-class DDG-51 destroyer caused by last year’s across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration. Bath Iron Works, which is owned by General Dynamics, received a contract last summer to build four DDG-51 destroyers with an option for a fifth if Congress and the Navy can find additional funding.
Members of Maine’s delegation worked to include the funding in the omnibus appropriations bill that provides a program-by-program accounting of roughly $1 trillion in spending during the current fiscal year. The $100 million does not close the entire shortfall – estimated at more than $300 million – but will allow the Navy to exercise the option on the fifth ship.
“This funding is critical, and that is why I fought so hard to see that the money is included in the final bill,” Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican who serves on the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, said in a statement. “I spoke with Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Sean Stackley, last week, and he said the Navy is prepared to sign the contract option once the $100 million is made available.”
The other members of Maine’s delegation – independent Sen. Angus King and Democratic Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud – also lobbied their fellow senators and representatives to include the money in the appropriations bill. The House is expected to begin work on the measure on Tuesday with a goal of completing work on the bill this week, thereby avoiding another politically embarrassing and costly government shutdown.
Other Maine-related provisions of the appropriations bill include:
- $231.7 million for continued construction of Zumwalt-class DDG-1000 destroyers at BIW as well as additional money for DDG-51s already under contract.
- Language dealing with the Cape Arundel Disposal Site, a federally designated dumping site for dredged materials that is located several miles off the coast of Kennebunkport. The bill keeps the Cape Arundel Disposal Site open for five years after enactment, until remaining capacity has been used or until completion of a federal study to designate a dredge-dumping site for southern Maine. The Cape Arundel site was used for decades as the dumping spot for "clean" materials dredged from rivers and harbors in New Hampshire and Maine until 2010.
- Additional funding for Alzheimer’s research and treatment, including a $100 million increase in research at the National Institute on Aging and $10.5 million to expand home and community caregiver services nationwide. Collins sought the funding as part of a push to double federal funding for Alzheimer’s research.
Additional details of the bill will emerge in the coming days as lawmakers, journalists and outside groups comb through the more than 1,500 pages in the dense, difficult-to-read bill.
If you're interested in perusing the appropriations bill yourself, you can have at it by clicking here.
Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
Kevin can be reached at 317-6256 or email@example.com
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