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Shelby expresses concerns over defense cuts

Many in Congress have expressed concern over the declining numbers of ships that the U.S. Navy is able to deploy at any given time.

Senator Richard Shelby during a hearing before the Senate Appropriations Committee's defense subcommittee. (GLENN FAWCETT/DOD)

Senator Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, on Thursday questioned top U.S. Navy and Marine Corps officials during a defense subcommittee hearing on the president’s fiscal year 2022 budget request.

“This discussion is particularly important because the Navy’s budget proposal reflects a meager 1.8 percent increase from fiscal year 2021, while reducing end strength and procurement investments,” Shelby said. “The reductions are proposed despite the need to maintain readiness and make progress on key modernization priorities like the Navy’s leg of the nuclear triad and the introduction of new weapon systems.”

Many in Congress have expressed concern over the declining numbers of ships that the U.S. Navy is able to deploy at any given time.

“In addition to other deficiencies in the Navy’s budget proposal, this budget fails to include funding to support the multi-year procurement contract for the DDG-51, which reflects poorly on the Department’s view of its commitments to congress and its long-term shipbuilding plans,” Shelby said. “It also calls into question the seriousness with which this Administration approaches defense-related funding decisions given that the DDG-51 appears as the Navy’s top priority on its unfunded requirements list.

“You all are very well aware that our adversaries, including China and Russia, pose new and increasing threats,” Shelby said. “They are making unprecedented investments in their capability and capacity – investments that this budget does not even come close to matching.“

“I believe that this budget, which fails to even keep pace with inflation, sends the wrong message to our allies and our adversaries,” Shelby said. “I am interested in hearing how the fiscal year 2022 budget request fully meets the needs of the Navy and Marine Corps while maintaining our advantage over our adversaries.”

The witnesses who testified before the subcommittee were Acting Navy Secretary Thomas W. Harker, Admiral Michael Gilday, Chief of Naval Operations, and General David H. Berger, Commandant of the Marine Corps.

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Congressman Mike Rogers, R-Alabama, is the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee. Rogers has also expressed concerns about Biden’s defense budget request.

“It is almost as if the president developed this budget with little understanding of what is required to deter conflict and, if necessary, win the next war,” Rogers said. “Quite simply, this budget has little to do with pacing China. I refuse to support it. We should be expanding and modernizing our naval capabilities as called for by the Trump administration. I’m disappointed the Biden Administration doesn’t see the threat from China the same way.” 

Ranking member Rogers is in his 10th term representing Alabama’s 3rd Congressional District.

Shelby is the vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations and its subcommittee on defense. Shelby is serving in his sixth term in the United States Senate. Shelby has already announced that he will not run for another term in the U.S. Senate.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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