The House Appropriations Committee’s draft defense funding bill released Tuesday includes money for two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, reversing President Biden’s cut to the defense budget earlier this year.

The Biden Administration had cut the number of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers — manufactured at Bath Iron Works and Ingalls Shipbuilding in Mississippi — requested next year from two to one. A contract between the Navy and shipyards, however, calls for two surface combat ships during the next fiscal year.

The House Appropriations Committee’s proposed bill provides $706 billion in funding, an increase of $10 billion above 2021. Of that, $24 billion is dedicated to procure eight Navy ships.

Maine’s delegation, in hearings and at BIW facilities, have spent weeks advocating to restore the ship funding. They argue cutting one ship would cripple the nation’s industrial base at Ingalls or BIW.

If Congress can’t regain the ship, one of those shipyards would be forced to lay off about 500 shipbuilders, Maine 2nd District Rep. Jared Golden said in a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee earlier this month. That potential cut to the workforce would hurt BIW especially because the company has been on a mission of bolstering its workforce over the past few years “at the request of the Navy,” Golden told The Times Record.

BIW employees about 7,300, and added almost 3,000 new employees in 2019 and 2020, with plans to hire at least 2,000 more this year.

On Tuesday,  Golden, who is the vice-chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, stated: “Today’s news puts the delegation in a strong starting position to defeat this ill-advised cut proposed by the president’s administration.”

1st District Congresswoman Chellie Pingree stated that the cut “would have seriously impacted our highly-skilled shipbuilders.”

“I’m relieved the House Defense appropriations bill released today includes funding for a second DDG-51 ship, thus protecting BIW’s workforce and ensuring a competitive Navy,” Pingree stated.

Maine’s House and Senate delegation also argue that the reduction would slow the Navy’s effort to grow its fleet from 296 to 355 ships, hindering its ability to offset Pacific rival China.

With the drafted funding bill released, the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, then the full will markup for defense budget House Appropriations Committee markup the defense budget before the House votes on it. Golden warned this could happen any time between late July and early September.

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