The House of Representatives voted Thursday to reject a proposal that would’ve reduced the legal requirement for operational aircraft carriers from 11 to 10.
The Navy has just 10 carriers while waiting commissioning of the Gerald R. Ford — the first of a new class of carriers — which won’t join the fleet until late 2015 or early 2016, under current plans. Congress granted a waiver to the existing 11-carrier requirement as part of the fiscal 2010 National Defense Authorization Act, allowing the Navy to operate with 10 carriers from the inactivation of the Enterprise in December 2012 until the Ford arrives.
Thursday’s vote came on an amendment to the 2014 defense budget offered by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., that would’ve required the fleet to have 10 carriers but would allow for more.
“Our Navy is being pushed into shallow waters as a result of sequestration,” Blumenauer said, arguing the Navy needed the ability to “decide the level of aircraft carriers in the future.”
“It does not eliminate any aircraft carriers,” he said.
There was fierce opposition, especially from Virginia lawmakers.
Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., argued the amendment would hurt national security by having the Navy unable to meet its global commitment and would hurt sailors because they would be expected to spend more time deployed if the Navy doesn’t have enough ships.
Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., said the Navy needs a minimum of 11 aircraft carriers in order to have seven deployed. Blumenauer’s amendment “seriously jeopardizes national security,” he said.