PORTSMOUTH, Va. - It's no question the military is part of the lifeblood of Hampton Roads.
Lawmakers say 42 percent of our local economy is either directly or indirectly related to the Navy or Department of Defense (DOD).
“The Navy is crucial for our national defense, and we, as residents of Hampton Roads, play a big part in that,” Rep. Elaine Luria told News 3.
Luria said southeastern Virginia does one-quarter of the shipbuilding and repair for the entire country.
This week, local and state leaders are getting the word out about more funds that can help local shipbuilding.
Tuesday, Sen. Tim Kaine visited Norfolk Naval Shipyard. He toured the shipyard’s dry dock facilities and talked about current projects and funding for shipbuilding.
This all came after helping secure funding supporting shipbuilding and other projects in the National Defense Authorization Act for the 2023 fiscal year.
“There’s a very robust MILCON [military construction] investment in this bill, and in particular, MILCON investment that would affect Hampton Roads, including the shipyard.”
Priorities adopted in the Senate's version of the final bill include fully funding carrier and submarine programs, as well as more than $250 million towards military construction projects at installations across the seven cities.
Kaine gave an example to News 3 of what funding like this is looking like at Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
“Dry dock 4 is a dry dock whose history goes back to World War 1, but it’s being dramatically expanded,” Kaine said.
“If you think about the sea level rise, and other challenges in modernization, that’s a very big priority,” Rep. Luria added.
Meanwhile, Rep. Luria helped spearhead a $37 billion amendment for the House’s NDAA, including $250 million for shipyard infrastructure.
“This is obviously a huge issue for national defense with a lot of the threats we see around the world today,” Luria said.
Tuesday, Sen. Kaine also talked with Sailors during his visit to Norfolk Naval Shipyard about the recent suicides linked to the USS George Washington in Newport News.
He said there could be investments geared towards morale welfare and readiness that officials can make.
“You can spend your entire Navy career here on a shipyard that’s loud, there’s all kinds of activity, it’s not the most restful place to get a night’s sleep, and you’re not doing that thing that you might’ve signed up to do,” Kaine said.
A House committee passed four amendments from Luria for the NDAA to improve the quality of life for sailors assigned to the George Washington. This includes looking at parking, housing availability and mental health support.
Both Sen. Kaine and Rep. Luria tell me the House and Senate versions of the NDAA have passed committees.
They'll be up for a vote by their full chambers probably sometime within July.
Eventually, Kaine and Luria said both chambers will vote on the final bill. The goal for that, Luria said, is by October 1.