Courtney Statement on OMB Request for Second Virginia Class Submarine
VERNON, CT – Congressman Joe Courtney, Chairman of the House Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, today welcomed the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) request to Congress to fully fund a second Virginia Class submarine in the 2021 defense appropriations bill.
“I’m pleased that the Trump Administration has finally recognized what the House of Representatives and the Department of the Navy already knew—the decision to fund a second Virginia-class submarine and to sustain the two-a-year build rate is in the best interest of our national security,” Chairman Courtney said. “OMB and the White House’s proposal last February to cut a submarine in the 2021 budget was a short-sighted decision and should have never been in the budget in the first place. Thankfully, the bipartisan work we’ve done over the last ten months in the House-passed defense authorization and appropriations bills to fully fund a second submarine already provides a viable, paid-for path towards reversing the damage OMB itself created. While today’s belated, last-minute support from the White House is helpful, it’s really just tapping a putt on the lip of the cup that the U.S. House Defense Committees got to the hole.”
The FY21 budget requested one Virginia-class submarine, breaking the two-per-year build rate that has been in place since 2011. Since 2018, Congress has allocated $1.1 billion for the second submarine — including an additional $200 million just last year to support the sustained two-per-year build rate — and in language approved in the 2020 NDAA, which directed the Navy to submit a budget that supports a two-submarine budget in 2021.
On a bipartisan basis, Congress has panned the proposal to eliminate the second submarine.
The Navy’s unfunded priority list ranked the fully funded restoration of the second 2021 Virginia-class submarine as the service’s top priority.
In March, Courtney led 111 members in urging the House Appropriations Committee to support restoration of the second submarine. The letter notes that "The proposal to request one attack submarine is contrary to the National Defense Strategy, the needs of our combatant commanders, and a decade of Congressional action in support of a steady two-a-year build rate.” The 112 members that joined this request represent 32 states, over 14,000 suppliers, and over $10 billion in manufacturing and support activity in the submarine supply chain.
In testimony before the House and Senate Armed Services Committee, Defense Department and Navy leaders stated that the submarine was subject to late-stage funding shifts, and that they were not involved in the decision to eliminate this submarine from the budget. In response to questioning from Chairman Courtney, Chief of Naval operations Admiral Michael Gilday stated that “If you asked me, if I could give you another ship today, what would it be? It would be a Virginia-class submarine.”
Navy acquisition chief James Geurts affirmed to Chairman Courtney the readiness of the industrial base to support the second 2021 submarine, telling the subcommittee that “I’m confident that they can execute the ship.” In response to questioning from Chairman Courtney, Secretary Guerts told the Seapower Subcommittee that “This is the year – I would say we need to either add that ship in this year, or then we’ll just have to work on that at the start of Block VI."
On March 5, Courtney questioned Assistant Secretary of the Navy James F. Geurts about the submarine budget. After confirming the Assistant Secretary’s confidence in the shipbuilders at EB, Chairman Courtney focused his questioning on the budget proposal’s potential impact on the Columbia-class submarine program. In response, he testified that “I think submarine construction is very sensitive to cadence. And the number one thing we can do is stability, and get on a cadence...If we cut short, and have a large gap at the end of Block V before having Block VI move in and Columbia start up, that will be a risk to execution not only in Virginia but in Columbia.”