House Armed Services subpanel to propose $20.6B for shipbuilding

House Armed Services subpanel to propose $20.6B for shipbuilding
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The House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee would rebuff a slew of administration proposals, including plans to retire and cut funding for ships, according to a draft portion of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act released Tuesday.

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“The last eight years have shown that bowing down to bullies or ignoring them does not make them go away,” Rep. Randy ForbesJames (Randy) Randy ForbesDaschle Group hires first GOP lobbyist Overnight Defense: US sanctions NATO ally Turkey over Russian defense system | Veterans groups, top Democrats call for Wilkie's resignation | Gingrich, other Trump loyalists named to Pentagon board Gingrich, other Trump loyalists named to Pentagon advisory panel MORE (R-Va.), chairman of the subcommittee, said in a written statement. “We need to make sure that when we have men and women from this country who are willing to stand up to them, that they have the resources they need to win that fight. Among those resources are the ships and planes necessary to win and come home safely.”

The bill would authorize $2.3 billion more for shipbuilding than the Pentagon requested, for a total of $20.6 billion.

That includes $385 million for a third Littoral Combat Ship, $433 million for a third destroyer and $856 million for a next-generation amphibious ship.

The bill would also prohibit the retirement of Mine Countermeasure Ships and the inactivation of 11 cruisers.

The bill does line up with the administration’s request for B-21s, also known as the new long-range strike bomber.

But it does ask for a report from the Air Force on how many B-21s it will actually need, after outside testimony to the committee said the Air Force will need 74 to 105 more than the 100 planned. 

The bill would also require the Air Force to create a “development progress matrix” so Congress can monitor how the project is going.

“It’s not any way an indicator of lack of support,” a minority committee staffer said at a background briefing for the press. “We’re very supportive of the program. With some of these new technologies, like you saw with F-35, the sooner you can really pinpoint areas where they’re falling behind or having technical trouble, I think, it’s better for the program.”

The bill would also call for building an aircraft carrier every four years instead of five years. That’s because a Congressional Budget Office report warned five years would bring the Navy down to 10 aircraft carriers, instead of the 11 it needs.

“That’s a little out in the future, but we’re kind of pushing the issue out there, saying that we need to build aircraft carriers a little bit quicker than what the current projection is,” a majority committee staffer said at the briefing.