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House panel backs adding second guided-missile destroyer to Navy budget
A House panel is backing adding a second Arleigh Burke-class destroyer to the Navy's fiscal 2022 budget, the latest move in Congress to stray from the administration's defense budget request.
In its portion of the annual defense policy bill, the House Armed Services Committee's seapower subcommittee is recommending the full committee approve buying a total of eight new warships, committee aides told reporters on a background call Tuesday.
That's the same total number requested by the Biden administration. But, the panel is recommending two Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers instead of the one requested by the administration, and one towing, salvage and rescue ship instead of two.
The subcommittee's portion of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would round out the shipbuilding budget with two Virginia-class submarines, one guided-missile frigate, one refueler and one T-AGOS(X) auxiliary general ocean surveillance ship.
Lawmakers in both parties, even some Democrats who support the Biden's administration overall $715 billion request for Pentagon funding, have blasted the Navy's shipbuilding request as inadequate.
The House Appropriations Committee, which followed Biden's top-line request for Pentagon funding, similarly added a second guided-missile destroyer in the Defense Department spending bill it approved earlier this month.
In a report accompanying its bill, the Appropriations Committee blasted the Navy for "a troubling trend of underfunding ship acquisition programs and then requesting the removed ship as the highest priority on the unfunded priority list." Last year, the Navy similarly requested just one Virginia-class submarine, to Congress's dismay.
In Tuesday's background call on the NDAA, House Armed Services Committee aides said they "agree with everything" the Appropriations Committee said in its report about how the Navy is "gaming Congress."
"It's a dangerous game for the Navy to play," one aide said. "I don't think it's guaranteed that when they do these types of taking stuff out at the last minute and depending on Congress to put it back, that's always gonna be the case."
In restoring a second guided-missile destroyer to the budget, the aide added, "we had to pay for that ship somewhere, so they'll see that there are other areas where they will have to take some cuts."
Aides would not elaborate on what was cut from the budget to pay for the destroyer, citing a policy not to discuss funding specifics until the full committee's version of the NDAA is released.
The seapower subcommittee is scheduled to consider its portion of the bill Wednesday afternoon.