The House Armed Services Committee approved the annual defense policy bill early Thursday that would authorize the Navy to buy a total of 13 ships.
The committee’s version of the Fiscal Year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act would also save five Littoral Combat Ships from decommissioning.
During Wednesday’s markup the committee approved an amendment from Reps. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) and Jared Golden (D-Maine) that would authorize a $37 billion increase to the policy bill’s topline.
That same amendment also authorizes funds for five more ships – another Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, a second Constellation-class frigate, another T-AO-205 John Lewis-class oiler and two Expeditionary Medical Ships. This is in addition to the eight battleforce ships – two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, two Virginia-class attack boats, one Constellation-class frigate, one San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock, one T-AO-205 John Lewis-class oiler and one T-ATS 6 Navajo-class towing, salvage and rescue ship – the legislation authorizes to meet the Navy’s original FY 2023 request.
Luria’s and Golden’s amendment also authorizes funds to save five Littoral Combat Ships from decommissioning. The Navy’s FY 2023 budget proposal sought to decommission a total of 24 ships, including nine Freedom-class LCSs.
Despite some opposition to the amendment, specifically the effort to save the five LCSs, the panel approved the measure.
“As proposed by the Biden administration, building eight ships and retiring 24 ships does not pace with China’s expansionist policies and places our national security at risk,” HASC seapower and project forces subcommittee ranking member Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) said in a statement. “This markup reverses a dangerous divest to invest strategy and expands the overall fleet by authorizing 13 ships and allowing 12 vessels to retire.”
The panel approved another amendment offered by Luria that calls for a “National Commission” to assess the entire Navy.
“Rep. Luria’s amendment would establish a commission comprised of Members of Congress and individuals with expertise in Navy policy and strategy, force structure, organization, and design to study the present conditions of the service,” Luria’s office said in a news release about the amendment. “The commission will review the force structure of the Navy, with an emphasis on readiness, training, ship maintenance, ship building, manning, and personnel.”
The amendment stipulates that the commission would have eight members and that the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate armed services committees must choose them within three months of the NDAA becoming law, according to text of the amendment. The measure would also require an evaluation of the funds needed for the Pentagon to recapitalize the nuclear triad and how doing so impacts the Navy’s budget.
Meanwhile, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) offered an amendment that would “[clarify] Navy peacetime responsibilities as detailed in Title 10,” according to a description of the measure. The HASC approved the amendment.
The legislation will now head to the House floor.