President Joe Biden is asking Congress to approve about $3.4 billion in additional funding for the submarine industrial base, an emergency request that is part of a $105 billion national security package providing money for border security, Ukraine, Israel and humanitarian efforts in Gaza.
The request is a significant boost for the submarine industry and its suppliers, including the companies based in Connecticut that play a major role in it. The proposal seeks to bolster security assistance in the Indo-Pacific region by improving the U.S. Navy’s public shipyards as well as supporting a wide range of needs for the industry.
The funding would also go toward meeting U.S. commitments related to a security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States (AUKUS). General Dynamics’ Electric Boat and suppliers in southeastern Connecticut are slated to play a major role in helping to deliver nuclear-powered subs to Australia in the 2030s.
The allotted $3.4 billion would help to increase production as it relates to shipbuilding and other procurements by focusing on infrastructure, workforce development and technology advancements. Part of that allotment would also go toward operating and maintaining public shipyards.
“President Biden’s $3.4 billion request to strengthen the Navy’s submarine fleet and our submarine industrial base underscores the administration’s clear-eyed commitment to growing U.S. undersea supremacy,” Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said in a statement.
“This request will not only help the industrial base increase production and capacity to ensure the Navy can meet its own fleet requirements but also position the AUKUS mission for success,” added Courtney, who serves as ranking member of the House Armed Services’ Seapower Subcommittee.
But with Congress unable to conduct business without a Speaker of the House, the request sits in limbo. The Biden administration announced its proposal just hours before Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, lost his third vote to become speaker, leaving Congress in turmoil with no clear path forward.
The emergency funding request also comes at a fraught time abroad: Ukraine continues to fend off Russia’s invasion for over a year and a half, while Israel readies for a ground war after Hamas killed more than 1,000 Israelis in an attack on Oct. 7.
Biden’s request includes $61.4 billion for Ukraine, $14.3 billion for Israel and more than $9 billion in humanitarian assistance. The supplemental package also directs $6.4 billion for border operations.
Administration officials said Friday that there is flexibility in allocating humanitarian funding but noted that at least some of it will go toward helping those in Gaza. Hundreds of Palestinian civilians died earlier this week after an explosion at a hospital, and thousands are displaced.
“Things happen [that] we need to be able to respond to. So that is a flexible pot of money that allows us to respond,” Shalanda Young, director of U.S. Office of Management and Budget, said on a call to reporters.
“But you’ve already seen a commitment from this administration in making sure humanitarian aid gets to those in Gaza,” she added. “So we imagine that aid will continue robustly as Congress funds more humanitarian aid.”
The supplemental aid for subs and other national security priorities is separate from the money Congress is already looking to approve for fiscal year 2024 to fund the federal government. After barely averting a shutdown last month, Congress needs to pass new government funding by mid-November. But that legislation also remains frozen until lawmakers elect a House speaker.
Members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation have been supportive of the Biden administration’s response to conflicts involving both Ukraine and Israel, as well as the need for humanitarian assistance in Gaza.
And while they support Biden’s push for national security funding and submarines, they also hope he addresses additional funding for domestic priorities like child care, disaster relief and food assistance programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC.
“Time is of the essence. American children and families, those affected by natural disasters, and our allies abroad do not have the luxury of waiting for our support,” House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, said in a statement.
“I look forward to continuing to review President Biden’s request, including that for much-needed resources to protect our border, and working with Democrats and Republicans in the House and the Senate to quickly draft and pass an emergency supplemental funding package,” she added.
The Connecticut Mirror/Connecticut Public Radio federal policy reporter position is made possible, in part, by funding from the Robert and Margaret Patricelli Family Foundation and Engage CT.