Miss. Senator Pushes for a More Realistic Investment in Shipbuilding

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, on Tuesday pressed Ms. Susanna Blume, the nominee to be Director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation for the Department of Defense, on the Biden Administration’s plan to cut the national defense budget.

Press reports have indicated that President Biden intends to announce on Friday a budget that would not adequately fund the Department of Defense and would cut back on key national security priorities, including shipbuilding.

“I think it is the desire of members of this committee to say, ‘Tell us what the needs are, particularly with regard to meeting our national defense needs,’” Wicker said. “Let’s find the resources together. But to cut back on what we are intending to do because of a lack of resources is unacceptable.”

Wicker expressed his disappointment at reports that this year’s presidential budget would include funding for only eight ships and would cut procurement of a destroyer and does not support a cost-effective amphibious ship acquisition strategy. Wicker pointed out that the authorities necessary to acquire the amphibious ships had been approved in last year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

In her response to the committee, Blume declined to commit to the congressionally authorized timeline for procurement, but noted that she supported a strong U.S. Navy fleet.

“I believe that a robust and highly capable and sustainable Navy is critical to U.S. national security,” Blume answered.

Blume also noted the benefits of multi-ship procurement, which include cost-savings for the taxpayer and stability for the U.S. shipbuilding industrial base.

Wicker also pressed Blume on the size of the fleet the U.S. Navy needs. Wicker authored legislation that was included in the Fiscal Year 2018 NDAA which made reaching a 355-ship fleet Navy as soon as practicable the law of the land.

“Tell us what the needs are, and we will enact the law to get you the resources,” Wicker concluded.

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Release from Senator Roger Wicker.