UPDATE-3: House Passes Defense Bill Funding LCS Program
The House of Representatives voted Friday morning to pass a defense spending bill that includes funding for the Littoral Combat Ship program.
The final vote on the $570 billion defense bill was 340 to 73.
The bill passed Friday includes funding for two Littoral Combat Ships in 2015. The original Navy contract called for funding of four ships, split evenly between Marinette Marine and a shipyard in Mobile, Alabama, but the Pentagon recommended cuts to the program to save costs.
Some lawmakers spent Friday morning trying to sway other politicians to support an amendment that would slash funding for the program, but they decided against calling for a vote.
Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI) has been vocal on Capitol Hill in support of the LCS program. He tells Action 2 News it's important for Northeast Wisconsin and the nation.
"We have been declining in shipbuilding expertise and technology here in the United States. This keeps us, and particularly keeps Northeast Wisconsin at the front end, the leading edge of the technologies. So it's very important for Wisconsin," said Rep. Ribble.
Defense spending now goes before the Senate for debate.
"Now, the idea here is to have the Senate language adopted into the conference report that we'll get sent to the President of the United States," said Rep. Ribble. "And, so we're going to continue to pay attention to that. We're going to work with Senator Johnson and Senator Baldwin and with our house conferees so that we can get the best result possible." The current Senate bill calls for the funding of three Littoral Combat Ships. Rep. Ribble says Wisconsin lawmakers will push for funding of three ships to be included in the final language of the bill.
Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson and Sen. Tammy Baldwin issued statements Friday:
"I will continue to make sure the Department of Defense is fully aware of the Navy's desire to build and put in service all 52 ships. I will also keep DoD apprised of the cost advantages of a smooth order flow and the risk of escalating costs should that order flow be disrupted," said a statement from Sen. Johnson.
Sen. Baldwin said, “Wisconsin is home to one of the largest manufacturing sectors in the nation, including a strong shipbuilding industry with a history of success providing ships for our nation’s defense. I have fought for this defense program because it employs thousands of hardworking Wisconsinites and helps meet our national security needs. I’m disappointed that the House-passed bill only funds two ships and am worried about the impact that might have on workers and suppliers in Wisconsin. I worked hard to ensure that three ships were authorized by the Senate Armed Services Committee and am hopeful that as we move forward and reconcile both the House and Senate bills, we can ensure full funding of three LCS so we can avoid a disruption in our workforce and ensure the LCS continues to have a positive impact on our Wisconsin economy.” Action 2 News will keep you updated on this developing story.
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