23 June 2017

News Story: HASC Adds 5 Ships To Trump Request, But Where’s The $$?

Image: Flickr User - Greg Bishop

WASHINGTON: Is 13 the Navy’s lucky number? That’s how many ships the House Armed Service Committee wants to buy in 2018, five more than President Trump requested, the seapower subcommittee announced this afternoon. The problem: no one knows where the money’s coming from.

The increase is part of a bipartisan push towards the 355-ship fleet the Navy says it needs to counter China, Russia, and other threats, a fleet the Navy itself says it can’t begin to build under Trump’s current budget plans.

HASC wants to add a destroyer, an amphibious ship, an Expeditionary Support Base vessel, and two Littoral Combat Ships to the Trump budget’s request for eight.

“It takes the necessary first big step down the road of getting to 355,” said House seapower chairman Rob Wittman this morning. “We can’t get there overnight,” he added, noting a Congressional Budget Office estimate it will tale 20-to-25 years.

This year, though, the great unanswered question is how to pay for those extra ships — or whether they can be bought at all. The ranking Democrat on the seapower subcommittee, Rep. Joe Courtney, told me frankly yesterday he’s never seen so much uncertainty about what the final budget will be.

“Not having a Budget Committee report out, even a suggestion” — he laughed — “is unprecedented in my time,” said Courtney, who’s been in Congress since 2007. “The (GOP-led) Budget Committee has not given us a number to mark towards.”

Read the full story at Breaking Defense