Panel greenlights aircraft carrier overhaul

The House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday approved legislation that prevents the Defense Department from retiring a nuclear aircraft carrier.

The measure, part of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, largely reflects the mark passed last week by the Seapower and Projection Forces that directed the Pentagon to fuel and overhaul the U.S.S. George Washington aircraft carrier in 2015 to extend its service life another 25 years.

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Subpanel chair Randy Forbes (R-Va.) rejected the Navy's arguments that it would costs $7 billion over five years to keep the carrier and its airwing operational, pointing out that existing law requires the service to have 11 carriers in its fleet. 

The legislation also authorizes funding for two littoral combat ships and allows for the possibility of funding two more ships.

That plan raised objections from Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), who offered an amendment to withhold money from the high profile program until the Navy Secretary submits a report detailing the service’s acquisition strategy for the ship in fiscal year 2015 and beyond.

Republicans vehemently opposed Duckworth’s measure, with Forbes saying the panel had “done oversight almost ad nauseam on this program.” The amendment was defeated by voice vote.

The full committee also voted down a Navy proposal to mothball 11 cruisers in order to save money.

 

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