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Defense spending bill increases US Navy's shipbuilding funds

March 3, 2017 (Photo Credit: Austal USA)
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran said a final 2017 defense appropriations bill has been agreed upon by the House and Senate, increasing funding for Navy shipbuilding.

Cochran, a Republican from Mississippi and chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and its subcommittee on defense, said Thursday that the bill would increase funding for the Navy and its modernization efforts, to include billions for shipbuilding.

Several of the ships specified in the bill would be built in his home state at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi, according to the Sun Herald

The news comes a day after the Trump administration cut the senator’s Coast Guard cutter project from its budget. The cutter project would have brought $640 million in defense spending to build the ship with the same company.

The U.S. Coast Guard had not requested the cutter project.

The newly agreed upon fiscal 2017 defense appropriations bill would provide $21.2 billion for Navy shipbuilding programs, with an increase of $2.8 billion and three additional ships from the original budget request.

The agreement between the House and Senate would fund construction of two Virginia-class submarines, three DDG-51 destroyers, three littoral combat ships, one LHA amphibious assault ship, and one LPD amphibious transport dock. The bill also provides procurement funding for the Ohio replacement submarine and aircraft carrier replacement program, in addition to advanced procurement funding for a polar ice-breaking ship.

“We’re funding 10 new ships, three of which were not requested by the previous administration,” Cochran said. “I’m pleased that our shipbuilders in Mississippi will play an important role in this process.”

Huntington Ingalls Industries, the parent company of Ingalls Shipbuilding, is also currently building the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford at its Newport News, Virginia, facility. President Donald Trump spoke on the deck of the carrier Thursday, after proposing $54 billion in defense spending increases and his desire to up the Navy’s fleet size from 275 to 355.

The House is expected to take up the defense bill in the coming days. The Defense Department is funded through April 28 by a continuing resolution.
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