The defense spending bill signed by President Biden approves three Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, like the USS Daniel Inouye, built by Bath Iron Works, shown here at the Bath shipyard. Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record

President Joseph Biden on Monday signed an annual $770 billion bill that authorizes the construction of three Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, the type of ship Bath Iron Works builds for the Navy.

The National Defense Authorization Act — or NDAA — is an annual piece of legislation that authorizes funding for military hardware like Navy ships. The bill, however, doesn’t dictate what companies will be awarded contracts to build the equipment.

This year’s defense bill authorizes $4.9 billion for three new Arleigh Burke-class destroyers for the 2022 fiscal year, which runs from Oct. 1, 2021, to Sept. 30, 2022. Only two shipyards build that class of ship, BIW and Ingalls Shipbuilding in Mississippi. Those shipyards usually submit competing bids to build those vessels, with the Navy traditionally splitting contracts between the two.

The bill also includes a 2.7% pay raise for military service members and the defense department’s civilian workforce, 12 weeks of parental leave for military personnel and new national cybersecurity policy provisions.

The bill also authorizes tests for the next generation of destroyers that will succeed the Arleigh Burke-class later in the decade.

Maine Sen. Angus King, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that the bill’s shipbuilding authorizations “supports good-paying jobs in Maine communities.”

“These funds will help Bath Iron Works plan its future and continue to build the highest-quality ships, sustaining local jobs and ensuring that our Navy has the tools they need to accomplish their missions across the globe,” King wrote in a statement Tuesday.

Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee and the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, said passing the NDAA and ensuring the country’s national security is one of Congress’ “most important responsibilities.”

“This legislation will support the brave men and women of our armed forces by backing pay increases and expanding parental leave,” Collins wrote in a statement Tuesday. “Additionally, the NDAA will support hardworking Mainers at BIW, PNSY, Pratt & Whitney, and elsewhere across the State who make invaluable contributions to our defense.”

Though the House passed its version of the initial NDAA in September, the Senate failed to pass its version of the bill so the groups could meet, iron out the details between the two and send it to the president. After the Senate stalled on approving its version of the NDAA, House and Senate defense leaders were forced to negotiate a last-minute compromise bill that could get passed before the end of the year.

The compromise version of the NDAA made its way to Biden’s desk after it was first approved by the House on Dec. 8, then the Senate the following week.

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