The Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee (SAC-D) has added Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.) to its roster for the new Congress.

Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), the new chair and vice chair of the Appropriations Committee, respectively, announced the full slate of subcommittee leaders and rosters on Feb. 15.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)"There are so many critical challenges our country faces right now, and we are glad to have this capable and committed group of senators to lead our subcommittees this Congress and work to solve problems in people's lives through our appropriations bills," Murray and Collins said in a joint statement. "We look forward to working closely with all of our Subcommittee leaders and colleagues on the Committee in the months ahead to find common ground-and deliver for the American people."

Along with the addition of Murphy and Capito, SAC-D's full roster includes Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Collins as the panels chair and vice chair, as well as Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Murray, Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H,) Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.).

Murphy said in a statement he plans to be a strong proponent of Connecticut-based defense programs, including "making sure they get a fair shot at DoD contracts"

"Serving on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee is a huge privilege, as I'll have the opportunity to be an even stronger voice to make sure we spend money in a way that's consistent with our true national security needs. Connecticut’s workers build world-class jet engines, helicopters, and submarines, and my priority will be making sure they get a fair shot at DOD contracts," Murphy said.

In recent weeks, Murphy has been particularly vocal about the Army’s decision not to award the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) contract to the Stratford, Connecticut-based Sikorsky [LMT].

"The Army’s decision to award the contract to Bell [TXT], even though its product is reportedly WAY more expensive than the Sikorsky product, is going to end up bilking American taxpayers," Murphy wrote in a social media post.

Bell’s V-280 Valor tiltrotor aircraft design was named the winner of the FLRAA program on Dec. 5, beating out a Sikorsky and Boeing [BA] team’s Defiant X coaxial rigid rotor helicopter offering for the competition to find an eventual UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter replacement (Defense Daily, Dec. 5).

Sikorsky then filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office, with a decision on the challenge due to be announced by April 7 (Defense Daily, Jan. 3). 

In a social media post from Feb. 2, Murphy said the Army has declined Congress’ request for a briefing on the FLRAA award four times. 

"My guess is that the Army is refusing to brief lawmakers on the assault aircraft contract because the price difference between the affordable Sikorsky helicopter and the expensive Bell non-helicopter is enormous," Murphy said in a Jan. 31 social media post.

The Army’s initial FLRAA deal to Bell is worth up to $1.3 billion but could total $7 billion if all options are picked up, which would include delivery of prototype aircraft and the first lot of low-rate initial production platforms (Defense Daily, Dec. 6).

General Dynamics Electric Boat [GD], which builds the Navy’s nuclear-powered submarines, is also headquartered in Connecticut and has a shipyard in Groton and a design and engineering facility in New London.

SAC-D held its first hearing of the new Congress on Feb. 9, where Tester said he wants the fiscal year 2024 budget to include funding and plans to help the Pentagon avoid future intrusions into U.S. airspace and pressed DoD officials on the decision making process related to the tracking and eventual shooting down of the recent Chinese surveillance balloon off the coast of South Carolina (Defense Daily, Feb. 9).