01:47 GMT +309 December 2019
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    The aircraft carrier group of the United States Navy led by USS Harry S. Truman, front, and a ship escort are seen leaving the port of Norfolk heading for the Middle East

    Lawmakers Want to Block US Navy From Retiring Aircraft Carriers Early

    U.S. Navy
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    Members of the US House of Representatives' Armed Services Committee have drafted legislation for the annual defense policy bill that would block funding for the US Navy to operate fewer than 11 aircraft carriers.

    The move comes after the Trump administration toyed in February with the idea of an early retirement for the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman.

    "No funding would go toward anything that would reduce the carrier force structure below the current statutory requirement of 11," House Armed Services Committee staff members told reporters Monday, Military.com reported. In addition, the bill suggests the Navy build a 12-carrier fleet and proposes $17 million for the Navy to cover the costs of the Truman's refueling and complex overhaul. 

    "The committee continues to support an expansion of the aircraft carrier force structure to obtain the Navy's requirement of 12 aircraft carriers," the bill states.
    House Armed Services Committee staff members also said that the bill would eliminate a cost cap on building aircraft carriers that has been in place since 2007, noting that the cap has done "nothing to contain costs" and resulted in the Navy delaying building capabilities that carriers require.

    "All it has done is driven inefficiencies within the Navy," one staffer said, the Hill reported.

    In April, the Trump administration reversed its decision to give the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier an early retirement after the Pentagon had considering reducing its aircraft carrier fleet from 11 to 10 ships — a move expected to save $3.4 billion by retiring the Truman only halfway through its life instead of overhauling it. 

    "I know that the future of this aircraft carrier is the subject of some budget discussions in Washington, DC," US Vice President Mike Pence in April. "As we continue to fight Congress to make sure that our military has the resources you need to accomplish your mission, President Donald Trump asked me to deliver a message to each and every one of you on the deck of the USS Truman."

    "We are keeping the best carrier in the world in the fight. We are not retiring the Truman. The USS Harry S. Truman is going to be giving 'em hell for many more years to come," Pence said, referencing the ship's battle cry of "give ‘em hell."

    At a press conference following his April speech, Pence told reporters that US President Donald Trump had "made the decision on the spot" that morning, following a discussion about the ship and its sailors' contributions to the Navy.

    "The budget is always a deliberative process," Pence said. "People bring their best ideas forward. This is a president who committed our administration to rebuilding our military after years of budget cuts in the last administration."


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