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Seapower Panel Requests Missing Shipbuilding and Naval Force Plans

February 12, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Representatives Joe Courtney (D-CT), the Chairman of the House Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, sent a letter to Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper about the lack of the required 30-year shipbuilding plan in this week’s budget submission.  The letter was also signed by the subcommittee’s Ranking Member, Representative Rob Wittman (R-VA).

The letter requests the updated shipbuilding plan by February 27, 2020 to aid in the panel’s review of the 2021 budget request for shipbuilding programs, which has drawn bipartisan criticism from legislators in Congress. That plan, which is required statute to be included in the annual President’s budget request, was not included in this week’s submission.

The letter also asked for an update on the status of the new Force Structure Assessment, which has been expected to be completed for several months.  The subcommittee had planned a bipartisan briefing this week on the new FSA, but the session was cancelled this week amid uncertainty over the status of the new plan.

In their bipartisan letter to Secretary Esper, Representatives Courtney and Wittman wrote:

“The FY21 budget requests eight ships, of which just six are combatants. This is a significant deviation both to the FY20 budget request, which planned 10 ships in 2021, and the final agreement on the 2020 authorization and spending measures that approved 12 ships. We also note that the budget request plans procurement of 44 ships between 2021 and 2025, a nearly 20 percent reduction from the 54 that were planned over this period previously.

“The stated requirement for the Navy is a fleet of 355 ships, which has been reaffirmed repeatedly in testimony by senior defense leaders, statements of policy from President Trump’s administration, and approved in law by Congress. […]

“However, it is challenging to put this request in a strategic or analytical context without two key plans. First, as you know, federal statute requires the submission of a 30-year long range shipbuilding plan with the President’s annual budget request. This requirement, unfortunately, was not met with submission on the Fiscal Year 2021 budget request this week. […]

“In addition, the subcommittee had worked with the Navy to schedule a bipartisan briefing this week on the updated Force Structure Assessment. […] However, this long-planned briefing has now been cancelled indefinitely. We request an update, in writing, on the status of the FSA and an anticipated date that Congress can expect to receive it.”

To view a final, signed copy of their full letter to Secretary Esper, click here.

For Congressman Courtney’s full statement on the President’s FY21 budget request, click here.