Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) sent a letter last week urging the four top congressional defense appropriators to include funding for three Littoral Combat Ships in the fiscal year 2019 defense spending bill.
The Sept. 7 letter lauds the House and Senate Appropriations committees for their support of the shipbuilding program in previous years and says funding three ships is "essential" to meet the demands of the National Defense Strategy.
"To meet the demands of the National Defense Strategy and make progress toward a 355-ship fleet, it is essential to continue that support by funding three LCS in FY-19," Baldwin wrote. "Doing so will also help revitalize American shipbuilding and manufacturing, strengthen the defense industrial base, and preserve American jobs.”
House appropriators in their version of the defense spending bill recommended $1.5 billion for three LCS. Senate appropriators in their version of the bill recommended two ships and $1.1 billion. The president's budget request included one ship and $646 million.
The joint House and Senate Conference Committee is expected to meet tomorrow to consider the minibus appropriations package that includes the defense spending bill.
In the FY-19 National Defense Authorization Act, lawmakers agreed to $1.6 billion to fund three LCS.
Baldwin's home state of Wisconsin houses the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard, which builds the Freedom-variant of LCS. Austal USA's shipyard in Mobile, AL, builds the Independence-class.