House GOP military budget includes money for Ingalls ship

WASHINGTON — House Republicans spared aircraft, bases and personnel benefits from defense budget cuts by chipping away at money the Pentagon spends in preparing the military for war.

Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, unveiled the $601 billion measure Monday that reflects smaller military budgets after more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the clout of congressional deficit hawks determined to cut federal spending. It does include $800 million toward building a 12th LPD-17 at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula.

The bill rejects the Pentagon’s plea for another round of closures of unnecessary military base and cuts some $1.4 billion for training, repairs and other operation and maintenance. It would cut $100 million from the commissaries budget as part of a three-year plan to reduce that spending from $1.4 billion to $400 million.

U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-4, last week talked to a subcommittee about the necessity of building the 12th San Antonio-class amphibious ship.

“This ship in my amendment is essential to Marine Corps requirements,” he told the Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces. “The commandant has testified he needs this ship, the CNO says that he could use 50 of them if he had the funding to do it.

“Now, I’m not asking for 50 ships today. I’m asking for one. I’m asking for one ship to fill a valid military requirement and a ship to maintain a healthy shipbuilding industrial base.”