Lawmaker abandons bid to fatten Littoral Combat Ship budget

House Armed Services Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee Chairman Gene Taylor, D-Miss., has abandoned efforts to add two additional Littoral Combat Ships to the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill because of hefty cost overruns in the program.

But Taylor, who will mark up his portion of the annual defense bill Thursday, plans to add three other ships to the Navy's budget request, an unusually large increase to the service's shipbuilding accounts.

The extra ships would include an LPD-17 amphibious transport dock ship and a T-AKE auxiliary dry cargo dock carrier. Taylor also would add money to begin procurement of another Virginia-class submarine next year.

Taylor has been working with House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Murtha, D-Pa., to grow the fiscal 2008 shipbuilding budget, an indication that the add-ons will find their way into the annual defense spending bill.

Meanwhile, Taylor said in an interview Tuesday that he expects the House Armed Services Committee to add $3.6 billion to the Pentagon's budget request for Mine Resistant Ambush-Protected (MRAP) vehicles, bringing the total for that program to $4 billion.

To do so, the committee has "moved some things around," Taylor said, declining to comment on likely offsetting cuts to pay for the vehicles.

Taylor, who is working with House Armed Services Air and Land Forces Subcommittee Chairman Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawaii, on the MRAP add-on, said the extra $3.6 billion would cover the maximum number of vehicles U.S. manufacturers can produce next year. It also would cover most, if not all, of the vehicles on the Army's and Marine Corps' lists of needs or requirements the Pentagon could not fit into its fiscal 2008 budget request.

With its V-shaped hull and other features, the MRAP offers far better protection against roadside bombs, the No. 1 killer of U.S. troops in Iraq. The Pentagon has requested more than 7,700 of the vehicles for all of the services.

Taylor's decision to nix additional Littoral Combat Ship purchases in fiscal 2008 follows the Navy's decision last month to cancel Lockheed Martin Corp.'s contract for the third LCS after service officials were unable to negotiate a modified contract. The Navy wanted Lockheed Martin to agree to a more stringent contract because of the ballooning cost of the company's first ship.

One of the most vocal shipbuilding advocates on Capitol Hill, Taylor said he walked away from his plans to boost LCS production because of the "[Navy] secretary's concerns, my personal concerns, and throw a tight budget on top of that."

Despite the program's problems, Taylor's chairman's mark still includes money for the two Littoral Combat Ships in the Pentagon's budget request.

Two of the ships Taylor does intend to add to the bill -- the LPD-17 and the T-AKE vessel -- top the Navy's unfunded requirements list.

But Navy leaders have resisted efforts to augment the shipbuilding budget, arguing that the struggling shipbuilding sector would be unable to meet increased orders. They also have adamantly objected to plans to increase submarine purchases to two boats a year, well before the Navy's plan to do so in 2012.

Ron O'Rourke, a Navy analyst at CRS, questioned the Navy's arguments, stating there are many work-arounds that would allow Congress to pay for the ships and the industry to build them at realistic rates.

"The Navy's primary reaction has been to focus on all the potential budgetary difficulties or shipbuilding challenges it could create," O'Rourke said. "Listening to the Navy's testimony, a visitor from Mars might never suspect that an extra LPD-17 is the No. 1 item on the Navy's [unfunded priorities list] this year."

In addition to increasing shipbuilding accounts, Taylor plans to include a provision in the bill that would require the Navy to make its next-generation CG(X) cruiser a nuclear-powered vessel. Taylor said he also plans to include language that would "curtail" the Defense Department's ability to lease foreign-flag cargo and transport ships.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.