July 15, 2014

Warner, Kaine Applaud $848 Million In Key Appropriations Bill To Refuel USS George Washington

Announcement by Senate Defense Appropriations Committee Chairman Dick Durbin is strongest signal yet of Congressional intent to fully refuel carrier, protect 11-carrier fleet

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine today applauded the announcement that the Fiscal Year 2015 Senate Defense Appropriations bill includes $848 million for the refueling and complex overhaul of the Norfolk-based aircraft carrier USS George Washington - a top defense priority for the Senators and the Virginia delegation.  Chairman of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, made the announcement during markup of the bill today.

"It ain't over til it's over, but this is excellent news for Hampton Roads and Virginia. This $848 million appropriation provides certainty for our shipyards, and allows them to retain the skilled workers required for a refueling and complex overhaul," Sen. Warner said. "Today's progress represents strong, solid work over many months by Virginia's bipartisan congressional delegation. It also commits the Navy to maintaining an 11-carrier fleet, which is absolutely essential to our national security."

“With Senator Durbin’s announcement today, all four critical committees have sent the clear signal that Congress supports upholding the 11-carrier statutory mandate and refueling the USS George Washington,”  said Sen. Kaine, a member of the Armed Services Committee whose amendment to the Committee’s defense bill paved the way for the Appropriations Committee to include this funding.  “Since January, I have worked with my colleagues on the Armed Services Committee and in the bipartisan Virginia delegation to obtain this funding and today I feel confident in the path forward for the refueling and overhaul, which will take place right here in Hampton Roads. Virginia is more connected to the military than any other state and continuing the service life of USS George Washington is good news for our Commonwealth, our servicemembers, our shipbuilding industry, and our national security.”

For months, Senators Warner and Kaine have worked tirelessly to urge the administration and their congressional colleagues to fully fund the carrier – a measure that was not included in President Obama’s FY15 budget request and, according to top Defense and Navy officials, required a clear signal of support for funding from Congress in order to move forward on the refuel. In a January letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, the Senators wrote, “No other American asset has the capability to launch kinetic strikes against terrorists, deter aggression of rogue nations, maintain the freedom of trade across the seas, and deliver humanitarian support to our allies in distress.” With today’s announcement, all four Congressional defense committee, including the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, as well as the House Appropriations Committee – have now signaled their clear support for the refueling and overhaul of the USS George Washington.

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