Stephen Singer, The Hartford Courant
23 March 2018
President Donald Trump on Friday gave a shout-out to submarine and fighter jet manufacturers as he signed a $1.3 trillion spending measure that steps up funding for the Pentagon.
The budget drew criticism from Republicans for its gargantuan size and money for Planned Parenthood. But Trump said the legislation pays for the “addition of critically needed ships, planes, helicopters, tanks and submarines” equipped with countless parts constructed and assembled in Connecticut.
“We have submarines being built, the likes of which there’s nothing anywhere in the world like the submarines we build,” he said at the White House, accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence and several Cabinet members.
The measure, which cleared the House of Representatives Thursday and the Senate early Friday, earmarks $5.5 billion for Virginia class submarines, exceeding Trump’s request by $225 million.
It also includes $1.9 billion for Columbia-class submarines that are being designed to replace the Ohio-class submarine.
Electric Boat, a subsidiary of General Dynamics Corp., is expanding its operations in Groton and Quonset Point, R.I., to accommodate stepped-up ship-building, and is hiring more workers.
Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va., is a partner of EB.
U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., whose district includes the Groton shipyard, said there was “some irony” in Trump singling out submarine construction. The president’s initial budget proposed eight new Navy ships, including submarines. The bill he signed calls for 13, he said.
“Congress made major modifications of the plan he sent over,” said Courtney, a member of the House Armed Services Committee.
U.S. military strategy has shifted from an emphasis on drone technology and air strikes against terrorists following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. The Pentagon is now looking to boost stealth undersea warfare as the U.S. faces threats from China, Iran and Russia.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said Trump has changed course since December 2016 when he wrote on Twitter that he would rein in “out of control” costs of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Friday, the president called the F35 “the most sophisticated aircraft in the world.”
“They’re hard to find, they’re hard to see, therefore they’re hard to beat,” Trump said.
Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Trump is now “fully on board” with the F-35 program.
“When someone becomes commander-in-chief they have to deal with reality,” he said.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said the measure “has lots of wins” for Connecticut.
“It will send more money back to the Connecticut manufacturers who make submarines, helicopters, and engines,” he said.
Beneficiaries will be Connecticut’s three Pentagon contractors — Electric Boat, Pratt & Whitney and Sikorsky — and hundreds of small manufacturers that make countless parts bought by the conglomerates.
Connecticut-made military equipment include the Black Hawk helicopter, a war-time work horse set to receive $1.1 billion, and the Marine heavy-lift helicopters, budgeted for $1.3 billion, according to Blumenthal’s office. The helicopters are built by Sikorsky, a unit of Lockheed Martin Corp.
Military funding also includes $434.1 million for presidential helicopters and $354.5 million for combat rescue helicopters.
It includes $10.2 billion for 90 F-35 fighter jets for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, an increase of 20 fighters and $2.9 billion greater than Trump’s budget request. Pratt & Whitney, the jet engine subsidiary of United Technologies Corp., is a manufacturer of the engines