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Kaine Presses Hagel For Commitment To 11-Carrier Fleet

In Armed Services hearing, Hagel confirms to Kaine that 11-carrier statutory requirement remains law of land

WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the Fiscal Year 2015 defense budget today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the committee, pressed for, and received, additional commitment from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and other Department officials that the administration supports maintaining an 11-carrier fleet if Congress can provide additional sequester relief for Fiscal Year 2016 and beyond. 

“Before I get into some particulars about [aircraft carriers],” Kaine began, “it is the policy position of both the DOD and White House to continue to support an 11 carrier navy, correct?”

Secretary Hagel replied, “Yes it is.”

While Kaine pledged to continue the fight to repeal remaining sequester cuts over the next two years – the crucial step to fund 11 aircraft carriers and maintain the proposed floor of 440,000 soldiers in the Army, 335,000 in the Army National Guard, 195,000 within the Army Reserves and 182,000 Marines – he also reaffirmed that an 11-carrier Navy remains the law of the land.

“One of the first votes I cast when I got here was to not let sequestration go into effect in February of 2013,” Kaine said. “I’ve worked on a Budget committee with my colleagues to find as much sequestration relief as we can find in ’14-15 and I’m going to keep doing it.  However, worst case scenario - if Congress does not provide either an indication of support or actual support in lifting sequester cuts, it would still be the case there’s a statutory requirement for 11 carriers that, absent a change in statutory language, would be the law of the land, correct?”

Secretary Hagel confirmed that 11 carriers are a statutory requirement saying, “we follow the authorization and appropriations direction of the Congress.  We follow the law.”