Sen. Wicker presses Defense Department nominee on budget cuts

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At a Senate Armed Services Committee, U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MA) urged a Defense Department official not to make certain cuts to the department’s budget.

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Wicker pressed Susanna Blume, the Biden administration’s nominee to be director of cost assessment and program evaluation for the Department of Defense, on reports that cuts would be made to the national defense budget, particularly for shipbuilding.

“I think it is the desire of members of this committee to say, ‘Tell us what the needs are, particularly with regard to meeting our national defense needs,’” Wicker said at the hearing. “Let’s find the resources together. But to cut back on what we are intending to do because of a lack of resources is unacceptable.”

Specifically, Wicker expressed his disappointment that Biden’s budget would include funding for only eight ships and would cut procurement of a destroyer. Also, reports indicated that the budget does not support an amphibious ship acquisition strategy even though the authorities necessary to acquire the amphibious ships were approved last year.

Blume, in her testimony, said she supported a strong U.S. Navy fleet.

“I believe that a robust and highly capable and sustainable Navy is critical to U.S. national security,” Blume said.

She also noted the benefits of multi-ship procurement, including cost-savings and stability for the U.S. shipbuilding industrial base.

“Tell us what the needs are, and we will enact the law to get you the resources,” Wicker said.

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