DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2019
Mr. SCOTT of Virginia. Mr. Chairman, I would like to commend both Mr. COURTNEY and Mr. WITTMAN for their tireless work on the Seapower Subcommittee on the House Armed Services Committee supporting our nation's Navy and our shipbuilding industrial base. As I have the honor of representing Newport News, Virginia, home to thousands of shipbuilders, I appreciate their work and commitment to this issue.
As Mr. COURTNEY and Mr. WITTMAN have already stated, our Navy is being squeezed and desperately needs more ships, especially Virginia-class attack submarines. Numerous civilian and military officials, including Defense Secretary Mattis, have testified before Congress that we need more submarines. And that's the goal of this amendment--to ensure that the Navy has the necessary resources in FY2019 that they would need in order to efficiently pursue and negotiate the next multiyear block contract in the early 2020.
Specifically, this amendment provides funding for a submarine reactor, industrial base support and other critical items. The amendment does not bind Congress or the Navy into any specific course of action. If the Navy opts not to pursue the option to purchase additional submarines, that reactor and other material purchased with these funds will be absorbed into submarines that the Navy has already contracted to buy.
Our shipbuilding industrial base is critical to our national security. Making these investments today will both save money for our Navy and provide more certainty for our shipbuilders. This amendment is supported by unions, the Navy League, and retired flag officers.
Mr. Chair, we have heard warnings for years that our submarine fleet is at risk of dropping to levels that would make it incredibly difficult for the Navy to achieve its mission. This amendment guards against that from becoming a reality.
I urge my colleagues to support this amendment so that Congress can preserve the option for the Navy to build as many submarines as possible, and as cost-effective as possible, in the next five-year block contract.