A planned hearing by two House Armed Services subcommittees aboard the USS Eisenhower at Norfolk Naval Station has been changed to a private meeting after the Pentagon raised concerns about holding a public hearing in Norfolk weeks before a Republican primary in which subcommittee chair Randy Forbes (R-Va.) is running.
The hearing, intended to highlight the need to commit more spending to expand the Navy’s fleet, would have been held jointly by the committee’s Seapower and Projection Forces and Readiness subcommittees. Four Navy captains were scheduled to testify.
Objections from the office of Defense Secretary Ash Carter led to discussions with lawmakers about how to allay criticism about the timing of the planned hearing, reported the Virginian-Pilot.
“The House Armed Services Committee made this decision voluntarily after discussion with DOD attorneys about how best to ensure that the committee’s oversight work could be accomplished while mitigating any criticism about the potential hearing occurring on a military facility close to an election,” a committee spokeswoman told the paper.
Instead the two panels will hold a hearing Thursday on Capitol Hill on Navy force structure and readiness. The original hearing will now be a private question-and-answer session in the hangar bay of the aircraft carrier pierside at the naval station, according to the story.
Forbes expressed disappointment the session aboard the Eisenhower is not open because he wants people to understand the extent of the Navy’s readiness shortfalls.
“I think you’re going to be surprised,” he said. A bigger Navy has become central to Forbes’ re-election bid in southern Virginia.