Senator Murray Underscores Importance of Support for Military Families and Timely, Bipartisan Spending Bills

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, at an Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the President’s FY24 budget for the Navy and Marine Corps, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, emphasized the importance of—and her commitment to—working together to pass bipartisan funding bills in a timely way to keep our country safe and competitive, ensure our military remains the best in the world, and get military families the support they need.


“The conversations we are having here today—including this hearing—really help us show how we are going to make those investment decisions here in D.C. that will help strengthen our country and protect our families, which as we all know is especially important when China and others are making significant investments in their own Navy and military right now. If we are going to keep pace with other countries’ investments, we have to work together to get a bipartisan funding bill done,” said Senator Murray. “And we need to remember that includes making sure that our military families get things like child care and mental health care and good housing and schools and so much more.”


At the hearing, Senator Murray also asked Admiral Michael M. Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations, about the Navy’s plans to address seismic deficiencies discovered in dry docks at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton and the Trident Refit Facility in Bangor—two critical facilities in Washington state. Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, for one, is the primary location for attack submarine and aircraft carrier maintenance on the West Coast.


“I want to know: how exactly is the Navy working with Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Trident Refit Facility to plan and implement near-term mitigation, and what resources do you need to accomplish that?” asked Senator Murray. Admiral Gilday replied that the most immediate repairs will be completed by this summer.


In addition, Senator Murray asked Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro about the Navy’s announcement in 2021 that Naval Station Everett had been designated as the future homeport for 12 Constellation-class frigates scheduled to be delivered in 2026.


“That’s great news—the Navy’s long-term commitment to Everett and Snohomish County is really clear. But as we get closer to that date, we need to make sure that not only the Navy has the resources they need, but that the Everett community also has the support it needs to accommodate the influx of sailors and their families. Are those still on track to arrive in 2026?” asked Senator Murray.


Senator Murray also discussed a report released by the Department of Defense last year showing that suicide rates for active duty servicemembers have gradually ticked up since 2011 and, in 2021, was nearly 17 deaths per 100,000 sailors. As she works to assess the Navy’s needs for the year ahead, Senator Murray asked Secretary Del Toro about how President Biden’s budget supports key recommendations to reduce suicide in the military.


“Nearly 17 deaths per 100,000 sailors—that’s just devastating. Does the President’s budget request support any additional mental health [efforts]?” asked Senator Murray.