Mitchell Responds to House Approval of NDAA Conference Report
WASHINGTON – Congressman Paul Mitchell (MI-10) released the following statement after the House of Representatives voted 359-54 to approve the conference report for H.R. 5515, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2019, which included language offered by Congressman Mitchell affirming the national security importance of the Soo Locks:
“For the 58th straight year, members of the House and Senate were able to reach a bipartisan consensus and pass a bill that supports our military and our nation. This year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is in line with Trump Administration requests, includes significant funding to ensure readiness, maintain equipment, and restore our nation’s military capabilities. It further provides a 2.6% pay raise for our troops, the largest in 9 years.
The bill also protects the United States from malicious technology from Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE by banning those companies from working with the U.S. government, and U.S. government related entities. It also maintains sanctions against, and invests in military capabilities to confront, threats from Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, and more.
For Michiganders back home, the NDAA includes funds for wing replacement and modernization of A-10s housed at Selfridge ANGB, authorizes upgrades for Stryker A1 combat vehicles and Abrams tanks, and includes my language affirming the national security importance of the Soo Locks. Nearly all domestic iron ore – which is required for certain steel production, a substantial part of our economy and essential for national defense – travels through the Soo Locks. There is no redundancy or alternatives to the locks. That’s why I am glad Congress is urging the US Army Corps of Engineers, and all involved executive branch agencies, to expedite any necessary reviews, analysis, and approvals in order to speed the required upgrades at the Soo Locks. I will continue to do everything and anything I can in Congress to get this project built, both as a member of the House Armed Services Committee and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, conversations with my colleagues and the Administration, or on bills like this.
I am also glad the conference report included my amendment that focuses on eliminating burdensome and ineffective procurement rules that add no value and result in no cost savings to the government or contractors.”
The Soo Locks bill language reads:
It is the sense of Congress that—
- the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, are of critical importance to the national security of the United States;
- the Soo Locks are the only waterway connection from Lake Superior to the Lower Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway;
- only the Poe Lock is of sufficient size to allow for the passage of the largest cargo vessels that transport well over 90 percent of all iron ore mined in the United States, and this lock is nearing the end of its 50-year useful lifespan;
- a report issued by the Office of Cyber and Infrastructure Analysis of the Department of Homeland Security concluded that an unscheduled 6-15-month outage of the Poe Lock would cause—
- a dramatic increase in national and regional unemployment; and
- 75 percent of Great Lakes steel production, and nearly all North American appliance, automobile, railcar, and construction, farm, and mining equipment production to cease;
- the Corps of Engineers is reevaluating a past economic evaluation report to update the benefit-to-cost ratio for building a new lock at the Soo Locks; and
- the Secretary of the Army and all relevant Federal agencies should—
- expedite the completion of the report described in paragraph (5) and ensure the analysis adequately reflects the critical importance of the Soo Locks infrastructure to the national security and economy of the United States; and
- expedite all other necessary reviews, analysis, and approvals needed to speed the required upgrades at the Soo Locks.