25 May 2017

News Story: SASC Will ‘Help’ Trump On Navy’s 355-Ship Fleet - Sen. Wicker

Image: Flickr User - Greg Bishop

CAPITOL HILL: Presidents propose; Congress disposes. President Trump’s shipbuilding budget for 2018 is a placeholder that legislators can increase, the chairman of the Senate seapower subcommittee told me this morning.

After Sen. Roger Wicker chaired a hearing with shipbuilding executives, following a classified hearing with Navy leaders, I asked him about Trump’s budget. Despite Trump’s campaign pledge for a 350-ship fleet, his budget adds no ships to the Obama plan for FY18 and actually cuts the shipbuilding account. Is this a disappointment, a placeholder, or — given that it takes time for the shipyards to ramp up — a reasonable delay?

“Option B,” Wicker told me with a slight smile. “It’s a placeholder.

“We’re going to work with the administration,” Wicker said. “We’re going to try to help the president get to his goal of more than 350 ships.”

“We take the leadership of the Navy’s recommendations seriously, as a matter of national security,” Wicker continued. The Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. John Richardson, released a new Force Structure Assessment last fall calling for a 355-ship fleet.

“The president has endorsed that concept in broad terms,” Wicker said, “and we aim to work with him to make the budget” — a thoughtful pause — “consistent.”

In other (less politic) words, if Trump won’t put his money where his mouth is, Congress can do it for him.

“I’m going to take it one year at a time,” Wicker told me. “I think what we heard today is an eminently doable lift for this year, this next fiscal year (2018).”

So what did Wicker hear?

Read the full story at Breaking Defense