House Armed Services shoots down calls to eliminate additional Navy ship

House Armed Services shoots down calls to eliminate additional Navy ship
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The House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday shot down a provision to cut one littoral combat ship (LCS) from the three proposed in its annual defense policy bill.

Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) introduced an amendment to the bill that would have redirected $556 million meant for one LCS to instead fund munitions shortfalls that the heads of U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. European Command have identified.

Several Democrats backed the proposal meant for the fiscal 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), arguing the combat ships are unreliable.

“Adding these ships, which, according to tests, literally cannot survive combat, has a lot more to do with parochial congressional district politics than the needs of our sailors and our troops," Moulton said.

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“Supporting these kinds of congressional boondoggles absolutely does hurt our troops, who in turn will not get the munitions and other resources that they truly need,” he added.

But Republican committee members — especially those in districts where the LCS are built — pushed back, and the amendment was rejected by a vote of 43-19.

The White House defense budget proposed eight ships, including one LCS. Navy officials later said the administration would support an additional LCS.

The House Armed Services NDAA added one more ship, bringing the total number to three, pushed by Rep. Rob WittmanRob WittmanNavy official: Budget, readiness issues led to ship collisions Air Force One is Trump’s new boardroom 355-ship Navy not a must under Trump's secretary nominee MORE (R-Va.). Wittman himself said moving the LCS dollars to munitions would put money “and the capability that we need today” on the sidelines.

Democrats pointed out, however, that the ship is not yet certified to sweep for mines, which is one of its intended purposes.

Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) called the LCS "a disaster of a ship.”

“I don't know what it is going to take for us to finally recognize that sometimes we have to say ‘no' to things that just don't work,” she added.

Two different variants of the LCS are built at shipyards in Alabama and Wisconsin.

Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) said three ships maintain “a healthy industrial base” and argued the shipbuilding workforce “will suffer a 10 to 40 percent layoff resulting in an extended production timeline and yielding cost increase of 10 to 15 percent.”

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), meanwhile, said the Navy has articulated that it wants more of the vessel.

“More than anything else, I've tried to listen to the Navy,” Gallagher said.

But Moulton insisted Congress was “forcing on the Navy a ship they do not want, a ship they do not need and a ship they did not request.”