Congress has passed a 2024 military spending bill that would bring $3.6 billion to Maine’s defense industry to build destroyers, engine components for fighter jets and other equipment.

All four members of Maine’s congressional delegation supported the package.

“This is an important bill for national defense. That’s what it’s all about,” Sen. Angus King told reporters Thursday.

The $886 billion National Defense Authorization Act passed the Senate on an 83-17 vote Wednesday and was approved by the House 310-118 Thursday. It now heads to President Biden for his expected signature.

Bath Iron Works, one of Maine’s biggest employers, will compete to build two destroyers under the spending bill. Another $700 million is available for a third destroyer that BIW “will have a shot at building,” said King, an independent and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Rep. Jared Golden, D-2nd District, said one of the destroyers will be built at Bath Iron Works.


“I’m proud to have pushed for a bipartisan bill that focuses on keeping our country secure, providing for those in uniform who protect us, and ensuring consistent work for our skilled shipbuilding workforce,” Golden said in a statement.

“This is a strong – and importantly, bipartisan – package that supports our service members, veterans and their families, invests in workers, and reaffirms our commitment to our partners and allies abroad,” said Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District. “By authorizing Bath-built Arleigh Burke destroyers and supporting (Portsmouth Naval Shipyard) modernization efforts, the NDAA will sustain good-paying jobs, supporting Maine’s local workforce and economy now and into the future.”

In addition to $3.6 billion in defense contracts in Maine, the legislation authorizes more than $850 million in defense personnel payroll, including a 5.2% pay increase for service members.

King said the spending bill also includes $60 million for a parking facility at the Bath shipyard. While parking may not appear to be key to national defense, it supports Maine’s industrial base by helping to maintain employment, he said.

“We need to keep people in these critically important jobs and we’re competing with businesses all over the country for these kinds of skilled people, welders, steelworkers, pipefitters, incredibly talented and invaluable workers,” King said. “Making their workplace more user-friendly is an important part of maintaining the viability of these facilities and maintaining the industrial base that underlies our national defense.”

Though military spending is approaching $900 billion, it represents just 3.8% of the U.S. economy, a smaller share than it was in the 1980s during the Cold War, when Congress and President Ronald Reagan boosted military spending to nearly 6% of the U.S. gross domestic product.


The U.S. faces numerous military threats, particularly from China. Sen. Susan Collins said in an interview Wednesday that the build-up of China’s fleet, which is on track to have 400 ships by 2025 and grow to become 50% larger than the U.S. fleet by 2030, is “one of our biggest concerns.”

The spending measure addresses the national security threats facing the U.S., she said in a statement Thursday.

Collins, the Republican chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the legislation also authorizes $544.8 million for the fourth increment of a dry dock construction project at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, which employs thousands.

The spending measure authorizes funding for 83 F-35 jets equipped with engines made by Connecticut-based Pratt & Whitney. The legislation also authorizes the procurement of 15 CH-53K helicopters.

Pratt & Whitney’s North Berwick facility manufactures the F135 engine for the F-35s, and Hunting Dearborn in Fryeburg has contributed to the F-35 and CH-53K programs.

Additionally, Collins said, the legislation will help complete a new Maine National Guard Vehicle Maintenance Shop in Saco.

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