House Democrats probing Navy after Trump's 'location' remarks in Wisconsin

By Justin Katz / June 26, 2020 at 12:51 PM

A congressional committee is seeking answers from the Navy after President Trump insinuated political considerations factored into a major shipbuilding contract source selection.

Trump spoke to shipyard workers yesterday at Fincantieri Marinette Marine's Wisconsin-based facilities.

"I hear the maneuverability is one of the big factors that you were chosen for the contract," said Trump, referring to the company's deal to build the Navy's future frigate, FFG(X). "The other is your location in Wisconsin if you want to know the truth."

The Navy announced the competition's winner in April and awarded FMM a $795 million contract to design and build the ship.

"We have requested information related to the Navy's official position about whether any of the shipyard locations influenced the source selection. We are still awaiting a response," a House Armed Services Committee Democratic spokeswoman told Inside Defense today.

A Navy spokesman declined to comment.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), whose district encompasses the shipyard, issued a statement following Trump's speech praising both the president and the company. A spokesman for the congressman did not immediately return a request for comment.

Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT) is the chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee that oversees Navy shipbuilding.

"Chairman Courtney takes suggestions that a major shipbuilding contract was awarded in anything but a fair and impartial way very seriously," Patrick Cassidy, his spokesman, told Inside Defense today. "Our subcommittee is looking into this matter and expect the Navy to provide our subcommittee and the American people with answers without delay."