Senate, House take different views on Virginia class sub funding

The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have taken different views on the pace of Virginia class submarine construction, a big block of business for Newport News Shipbuilding.

Both want to move faster than the single boat the Trump Administration proposed funding next fiscal year.

The Senate Appropriations Committee added $472 million to the $4.2 billion the administration proposed for a single Virginia class submarine in fiscal year 2021, with the additional money slated for advanced procurement for a second boat. Its counterpart in the House approved a total of $6.8 billion to fully fund two submarines in 2021.

Working as a team, building major components of the submarines and trading off assembly work, Newport News and General Dynamics Electric Boat shipyard have been building Virginia class subs at a two-per-year pace since 2011.

Because the House and Senate have different views on funding Virginia class submarines next year, the issue now goes to a conference committee to try to work out the differences.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D. Va., who has pushed for full funding for two Virginia class submarines next year, is pleased that his colleagues on the Appropriations committee at least agreed to the additional $472 million for advanced procurement for a second boat, a spokeswoman said. She said Kaine he believes full funding for two submarines is critical to strengthen our national security and our shipbuilding industry. His understanding is that the additional funds for advanced procurement will allow the two-boat-a-year pace over the long term.

Rep, Rob Wittman, R-Westmoreland, the most senior minority party member of the House’s Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, said it is unfortunate the Senate panel did not fully fund a second boat.

He said three other Congressional defense panels, as well as combatant commanders and the long term defense plan said the subs address the Navy’s greatest need.

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