16 senators request more naval funding

Several senators are urging Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to increase the Navy’s shipbuilding budget as the Pentagon is preparing its 2008 budget allocations.

Sixteen lawmakers wrote a letter to Rumsfeld on Friday asking him to increase the Navy’s top-line budget to provide $14 billion for ship procurement.

“Admiral Mullen, Chief of Naval Operations, has submitted a 313-ship plan to Congress, and the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review endorsed building a larger fleet,” the lawmakers wrote. “According to the CNO, approximately $14 billion is needed annually to finance the ship construction outlined in the Navy’s long-term plan.”

The letter was signed by Sens. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsOvernight Finance: GOP divided over welfare cuts in budget | Lawmaker loses M on pharma stock he pitched | Yellen says another financial crisis unlikely in our lifetimes Overnight Tech: EU hits Google with record fine | Amazon gears up for lobbying battle | Facebook hits 2 billion users | New ransomware spreads across globe Overnight Regulation: EPA moves to repeal Obama water rule | Labor chief to review overtime rule | Record fine for Google MORE (R-Maine), Jack ReedJack ReedDems push for more action on power grid cybersecurity 3 tips for President Trump before he outsources his duties to Mattis McCain threatens to block Trump's deputy Defense nominee MORE (D-R.I.), Trent Lott (R-Miss.), Jim Talent (R-Mo.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.), Mike DeWine (R-Ohio), Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamOvernight Cybersecurity: New ransomware attack spreads globally | US pharma giant hit | House intel panel interviews Podesta | US, Kenya deepen cyber partnership Graham gets frustrated in public ‘unmasking’ debate GOP senator: Don't expect Trump to 'have your back' on healthcare vote MORE (R-S.C.), Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), David VitterDavid VitterOvernight Energy: Trump set to propose sharp cuts to EPA, energy spending Former La. official tapped as lead offshore drilling regulator Former senator who crafted chemicals law to lobby for chemicals industry MORE (R-La.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Bill NelsonBill NelsonWeek ahead in tech: Lawmakers turn focus to self-driving cars Senate panel unveils aviation bill with consumer protections, drone fix Driverless cars speed onto political agenda MORE (D-Fla.), Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), Maria CantwellMaria CantwellDems push for more action on power grid cybersecurity Overnight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief Dems urge Sessions to reject AT&T-Time Warner merger MORE (D-Wash.) and Mary LandrieuMary LandrieuWhite House encourages viewing of anti-CNN James O'Keefe video New O’Keefe video shows CNN producer calling Russia coverage ‘mostly bull----’ GOP’s message on ObamaCare is us versus them MORE (D-La.).

Most of the lawmakers are from states that have large shipbuilding facilities or companies that work directly with the industry.

The senators emphasized that while the top-line budget for the Department of Defense has increased by 50 percent since Sept. 11, 2001, the ship-procurement budget has been reduced by 17 percent, shrinking the fleet from 341 ships to 280 in six years.

“Our national security requires that a high priority be placed upon providing sustained funding to maintain and build up our naval fleet to counter existing and emerging threats,” the senators wrote. They cited Pentagon reports detailing the rapid expansion of China’s sea power.

“Some experts have projected that China’s Navy will outnumber the U.S. fleet by 2015, less than one decade from now,” the Senators wrote.

“Your support of the budget requirements outlined by our Navy leadership is critical if the decline of our fleet is to be reversed,” they stressed.

The senators’ request would increase the Navy’s budget from $8.9 billion to $14.1 billion.

The senators’ letter comes on the heels of a letter sent by members of the House Shipbuilding Caucus urging support for a $14 billion budget.