Senator Jones spoke out today in defense of South Alabama jobs and a long-term national security strategy
Washington, D.C. – Today on the floor of the U.S. Senate, U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.) spoke out in defense of the approximately 4,000 South Alabama jobs that support production of the U.S. Navy’s Littoral Combat Ships (LCS). The Senate is currently debating the National Defense Authorization Act, which funds our nation’s defense programs for the coming fiscal year. Because the current bill includes resources for just one new LCS, Senator Jones has sponsored an amendment to add an additional LCS to the bill.
“By not recognizing the importance of the LCS to our nation’s security, we hurt the long-term viability of the workforce in Alabama and all the suppliers across 41 other states. And, to some extent, we don’t recognize their importance in national security,” Senator Jones said, speaking on the Senate floor today. “The [Navy’s] Future Frigate, which Alabama stands ready to support, won’t come online for a few more years. Those 4,000 workers in South Alabama need to keep working, not just sit tight and wait to be employed again in 2021. They need to work now. They need to continue the lines to make sure we have seamless transitions.”
“Let me be clear: this isn’t just about one or two ships,” Senator Jones continued. “We need to consider this in terms of our long-term goals. We need to build the ships the Navy needs to do its job. We need to keep our production lines ready to go for future products. And we need to maintain the American jobs that make these efforts possible.”
Senator Jones also highlighted several provisions in the Senate bill that will help Alabama, including: funding for the Missile Defense Agency at Redstone Arsenal; increased space defense funding; authorization for 75 F-35 joint strike fighter aircraft, some of which will be stationed on Maxwell Air Force Base; and, funding for 14 KC-46 refueling aircraft, which Senator Jones urged the Air Force to locate in Birmingham with the Alabama Air National Guard.
Video of Senator Jones’ floor remarks is available here and a full transcript is below:
Senator Jones Remarks to the U.S. Senate – As Delivered
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Madame President, I rise today to talk about an issue of deep importance to our country and my fellow Alabamians and it actually follows on my colleague, Senator Lankford, who eloquently spoke on our national security.
This week, we are debating the National Defense Authorization Act, which funds our nation’s defense programs for the coming year.
Like Senator Lankford, I want to thank Chairman McCain and Ranking Member Reed for their work on this incredible and important legislation, as well as Senator Inhofe, who has done such yeoman’s work in Senator McCain’s absence.
This bill has tremendous implications for our country, both abroad and here at home.
In Alabama, we know all too well about the need for national security and a good economy. From Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville to Fort Rucker. From Maxwell Air Force Base to the Anniston Army Depot and for all of our reserve and national guardsmen and women in the state of Alabama. They are on the front lines.
In addition to the tens of thousands of civilians that support their work, Alabama is home to a first-class workforce that supports our national security mission every single day.
So it only makes sense that this legislation continues to support the work of Alabamians, to include a well-deserved 2.6 percent pay raise for our troops.
And just as important, it also includes:
So I am pleased that this legislation takes care of so many of the priorities of our military, of our defense and for Alabama, and I certainly plan to vote for this bill and I commend all of those that have worked so hard to make it happen.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still ways that we can improve this bill.
As some of you may know, Alabama is also home to thousands of talented welders, mechanics, and other tradesmen and women who build the helicopters and ships that carry our troops around the world to defend the United States and our interests.
Not only are these vehicles important for an effective and responsive military, but they also support good American jobs.
One of those ships is the Littoral Combat Ship, many of which are built in Alabama, in Mobile, including the USS Manchester which was delivered to the Navy just last month. The LCS continues to prove its value to our nation’s defense and our military.
Which is why I am a little disappointed that the bill we’re debating this week includes only a single LCS, which I have a picture of here behind me. Many of them are made in Mobile, Alabama.
Not only did the President reiterate just last week at the Naval Academy his goal of growing our Navy to 355 ships, this program also puts to work about 1,000 different suppliers across 41 states. That translates to countless American jobs.
Now, I’ve seen these ships getting built firsthand – and it is a tremendous production, state of the art. During my first state work period back home in February, I went aboard the USS Manchester just before its commissioning and I saw firsthand how these ships are being made and the incredible opportunities down there.
To build ships like the Manchester, it takes 4,000 skilled workers to support the effort each day – that’s 4,000 American jobs.
Right now, back home in Mobile, they’re hard at work on the production lines to build the Littoral Combat Ships and the Expeditionary Fast Transport ships – like the USNS Trenton, which recently rendered assistance to mariners in distress in the Mediterranean.
By not recognizing the importance of the LCS to our nation’s security, we hurt the long-term viability of the workforce in Alabama and all the suppliers across 41 other states. And to some extent, we don’t recognize their importance in our national security. And we are not doing all that we can as a Congress to support our national security efforts. The [Navy’s] Future Frigate, which Alabama stands ready to support, won’t come online for a few more years.
Those 4,000 workers in South Alabama need to keep working, not just sit tight and wait to be employed again in 2021. They need to work now. They need to continue the lines to make sure we have seamless transitions.
Alabama, American jobs, national security: these are just a few of the reasons why I’ve sponsored an amendment to add a single LCS to this extremely important piece of legislation.
I would strongly urge my colleagues who will be in conference on this bill to increase resources for the LCS program in the final package that will come before this body. The House version actually contains three LCS ships. So as I have said so many times on this floor and in other places throughout this city and in these offices: I hope we can find common ground to build at least one, maybe two, more of the ships that are so important to our security and the Navy.
Let me be clear: this isn’t just about ships. This needs to be considered in terms of long-term goals for our military.
We need to build the ships the Navy needs to do its job.
We need to keep our production lines ready to go for future products.
And we need to maintain the American jobs that make these efforts possible.
It really isn’t rocket science – our national security strategy and the economic stability of our country go hand in hand. Alabamians are proof-positive of that given our long history in supplying military personnel and other aspects of our national security to help our military throughout the years.
I urge my colleagues to support my amendment and maintain a robust LCS production posture that supports our national security and economic interests.
Thank you, Madame President. I yield the floor.