Carlos Del Toro is the Biden nominee to be Secretary of the Navy.

U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today pressed Mr. Carlos Del Toro, nominee to be Secretary of the Navy, on his commitment to meeting the national requirement for a 355-ship fleet after recent testimony from Navy leaders had shown President Biden’s budget request for the Navy to be inadequate.

In his questions to Del Toro, Wicker reminded the nominee that the requirement for a 355-ship Navy had been passed by Congress and signed into law by the President. The number was based on a 2016 Force Structure Assessment that reflected an in-depth review of the needs of the U.S. Navy in light of new and growing threats abroad.

Wicker cited testimony from the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Michael Gilday, who had told the House Armed Services Committee that the President’s budget request for the Navy would only support a 300-ship fleet and that the Navy’s current decommissioning plan would drop that number lower in the near term to 290 ships.

“You say ‘Our nation is at an inflection point and we face challenges as severe as they are unprecedented. China, with its authoritarian system and its determined incursion to the South China Sea and globally, presents a constant naval threat. Russia and other resurgent powers also threaten stability,’” Wicker told Del Toro. “I find it ironic that you would then say a few sentences later, ‘I was pleased to see the President’s budget request recognize this challenge.’”

In his responses to Wicker, Del Toro reiterated his support for a 355-ship fleet and said he was “committed” to making the case to the Secretary of Defense and the administration that the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps would need additional resources as the U.S. military reoriented its strategy in the Pacific.

“I think there’s a bipartisan majority on both sides of the aisle and on both sides of the dais in this committee to help you find more resources to do exactly what you said is necessary vis-à-vis China and Russia and other threats that we have. I look forward to working with you,” Wicker concluded.

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Release from Senator Roger Wicker.