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White House doubles down on cruiser lay-up plan

May. 20, 2014 - 05:39PM   |  
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The Obama administration is none-too-pleased with a House subcommittee’s changes to an annual defense spending bill, including revisions to Navy plans and budgets that affect sailors.

The White House’s Office of Management and Budget issued a veto threat Monday, citing a laundry list of issues with the House Armed Services Committee’s changes to the fiscal 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, a bill that guides Defense Department spending each fiscal year.

Here’s three things you should know about the latest budget battle:

■ Refueling the aircraft carrier George Washington. OMB objected to the HASC changes that would force the Navy to spend more than $700 million buying materials needed to refuel the carrier. The GW’s mid-life refueling has become a pawn in the larger budget battles and Navy leaders have warned the service might need to retire it early unless lawmakers lift sequestration cuts in fiscal year 2016, which could eventually mean longer deployments for the fleet.

“Without assurance that sequestration will be addressed … it would be unwise to fund efforts to conduct [refueling and complex overhaul] in 2015, only to be forced to cancel it and inactivate it in 2016 due to ongoing budgetary restrictions,” the memo said.

■ Laying-up cruisers. The administration reaffirmed its support for the Navy’s plan to dock 11 cruisers and three dock landing ships long-term until they enter their mid-life overhaul, a plan Congress has moved to block.

■ Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike System. The administration objected to a provision that would block spending on the UCLASS, pending a review of the requirements. House lawmakers, led by Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., want to see the drone beefed up with a greater strike capabilities, a move the administration counters could put the whole program in jeopardy.

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