Republicans on Armed Services warn Gates not to 'undercut' them on vehicle

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon and his seven subcommittee chiefs are urging Defense Secretary Robert Gates to avoid formally stopping all work on the Marines Corps’ Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.

In a letter to Gates obtained by The Hill, the top eight HASC Republicans asked the Defense secretary to not take “precipitous action” on any program to which he earlier this month proposed major changes or immediate termination. Such moves, the committee leaders wrote, would “undercut Congress’ ability to pass judgment on the recommendations.” 

Gates announced Jan. 6 that the Marines were canceling the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV) program because it has become too expensive. The cancellation is among a number of moves announced by Gates to cut the Pentagon’s budget by $78 billion over the next five years.

Industry sources say General Dynamics expects to get the order to cease all work on the vehicles within the next few weeks.

If DoD issues a stop-work order to prime contractor General Dynamics and other EFV suppliers, it would “cease the program before the House Armed Services Committee and other congressional defense committees have had the opportunity to review the analysis and other documentation that led to the” proposal," the Armed Services leaders wrote. 

Such a congressional review would allow lawmakers to determine whether ending the program “is in fact an ‘efficiency,’ and/or is in the best interest of our national security,” the group wrote.

They requested that Gates hold off on issuing the order until the congressional defense panels have had time to scrub all of his cost-cutting proposals.

Several GOP lawmakers are vowing to fight the proposed EFV termination, and General Dynamics is floating the idea of DoD buying around 200 of the vehicles while also refurbishing and upgrading nearly 400 of the Marines’ existing amphibious vehicles.

Joining McKeon in signing the letter were: GOP Reps. Roscoe Bartlett of Maryland, the tactical air and land forces subcommittee chief; Mac Thornberry of Texas, the emerging threats and capabilities subcommittee chairman; Todd Akin of Missouri, who heads the seapower and projection forces subcommittee; Randy Forbes of Virginia, readiness subcommittee chairman; Joe Wilson of South Carolina, military personnel subcommittee head; Michael Turner of Ohio, who chairs the strategic forces subcommittee; and Robert Wittman of Virginia, who leads the oversight and investigations subcommittee.

A Pentagon spokeswoman did not immediately responded to an inquiry seeking reaction to the request.


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