What Budget? White House Saves Aircraft Carrier

It will ask Congress for extra money for USS George Washington
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 7, 2014 9:46 AM CST
The nuclear-powered aircraft supercarrier USS George Washington is escorted into a navy port in Busan, South Korea, Oct. 4, 2013.   (AP Photo/Yonhap, Jo Jung-ho)

(Newser) – With Congress breathing down its neck, the White House has stepped in to stop the Pentagon's plan to mothball even a single aircraft carrier, the Wall Street Journal reports. Chuck Hagel had decided that to meet sequester-mandated spending cuts, he could drop the nation's carrier fleet from 11 to eight or nine, starting with the USS George Washington. That would still leave the US with as many carriers as the rest of the world combined, but last week 11 lawmakers sent Hagel a letter decrying the move. "It is unacceptable to pretend the United States lives in anything less than an 11 carrier world," wrote Rep. Randy Forbes, who spearheaded the bipartisan message, the Diplomat reports.

Fearing that Congress would dramatically block the proposal, the White House is promising defense officials extra money to keep the George Washington in action—effectively raising the military's proposed budget. (A necessary midlife refueling and refurbishing scheduled for 2016 would cost $4.7 billion; decommissioning it would cost $1.2 billion.) Lawmakers almost always approve such White House requests for extra funding. Ultimately the Pentagon will still need to find $1 trillion in savings over the next decade, however, and liberal and conservative think tanks alike have advocated shrinking the fleet. (Read more sequester stories.)

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