Dispute over Moving Aircraft Carrier Brews as Senate Debates Milcon Bill
The Senate Wednesday is expected to vote on two amendments introduced by Virginia Sen. Jim Webb (D) aimed at blocking the Navy from relocating an aircraft carrier from Norfolk, Va., to Naval Station Mayport, Fla., to create a second nuclear carrier homeport on the East Coast.
Webb questioned the cost and strategic justification for shifting the carrier during remarks he delivered on the Senate floor Tuesday as the chamber began debating the fiscal 2012 military construction and veterans affairs spending bill, reported CQ Today.
One of Webb’s amendments would not allow the spending measure to fund design work needed to upgrade Mayport to berth a nuclear aircraft carrier. The other would bar spending $15 million to construct a highway at Mayport, according to CQ.
The Virginia congressional delegation has opposed the Navy’s plan to relocate one of its East Coast-based carriers to Mayport, as recommended in the Quadrennial Defense Review. Norfolk would lose about 3,500 personnel following the move. The relocation could cost up to $1 billion between now and 2019.
Senate leaders are hoping to debate amendments and complete action on the bill Wednesday.
Oregon’s two senators have filed amendments to the bill, H.R. 2055, to prohibit DOD from closing Umatilla Chemical Depot outside of the BRAC process. Last month, the Pentagon decided not to close the depot under BRAC 2005 after learning that officials have fallen behind schedule for destroying the remaining chemical weapons stockpile at the northern Oregon facility, according to the East Oregonian.