WASHINGTON - Today, Rep. Robert Wittman (R-VA), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, made the following remarks, as prepared for delivery, on the Subcommittee's markup. To view the mark and to watch the markup live click here.
"Before we start the deliberations of our mark, I want to recount the significant effort that went into delivering and debating the mark. Since I became the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee Chairman earlier this year, we have held seven hearings, five subcommittee briefings, and numerous discussions to arrive today. Additionally, I have had the opportunity to visit almost every ship construction yard in the United States as well as numerous aircraft production facilities. Two things have become painfully obvious: First, over the last several years, we have woefully under resourced the demands of our United States Navy and United States Air Force to support the current requirements. Second, we have hot production lines in the shipbuilding and aviation sectors that are prepared to respond. What is left for Congress to decide is whether we are prepared to answer the call. Without any reservation, I believe this mark and the funding recommendations we make to Chairman Thornberry are unambiguous. Yes. Today is a new direction. Today is the first step in our nation’s long term commitment to restoring our readiness. Today is a time to authorize the resources, the modernization, the personnel and the equipment necessary to provide our nation the military it so desperately needs.
As to the mark, it builds on the eight ships requested by the administration and adds an additional five ships. Specifically, the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee will recommend one additional destroyer, two Littoral Combat Ships, one amphibious dock landing ship and one Expeditionary Support Base. The mark also recommends additional advance procurement for aircraft carriers and attack submarines. As to aircraft, the subcommittee also recommends an expansion of KC-46As, C-130J variants, E-2Ds and P-8s.
As to efficiency, the mark provides multiyear procurement authority for Destroyers and Submarines, which will result in a projected savings of 15 percent. This is equivalent to buying seven ships for the price of six. As to the ballistic missile submarine, the mark expands the authority to include additional components that could be more efficiently procured. The Congressional Budget Office has indicated such an approach will save several hundred million dollars per submarine.
As to aircraft carriers, the mark includes major portions of a bill offered earlier this year by Chairman Conaway. Building aircraft carriers faster than one aircraft carrier every five years will allow our nation to realize the twelve aircraft carriers we need. Additionally, delivering aircraft carriers to the Fleet quicker and reducing red tape will get us to the required force structure.
Finally, I am particularly pleased with the progress the Air Force has made on the B-21 Raider program. While it remains early in the design process, I believe that Northrup Grumman has made the B-21 program a priority and is delivering to the anticipated cost and schedule of the program.
Overall, I am pleased with the progress this mark provides toward delivering the required ships and airplanes to our service members.
I also want to extend a special thanks to my ranking member, Joe Courtney. His partnership and shared vision throughout this journey has been particularly appreciated. I am heartened to believe that Republicans and Democrats can work toward a common purpose and deliver the capabilities our nation desperately needs."