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House Stopgap Spending Bill Provides Exemption for Columbia-Class Submarine Funding

  • House Democrats propose bill to provide short-term government funding to avoid shutdown after Sept. 30 date, with exemption providing funds for two Columbia-class submarines
  • Funding for the submarines would normally be considered new spending, which is not be permitted under stop-gap funding rules
  • Electric Boat in Groton was awarded a $10.3 billion contract earlier this year to design and build the next generation of submarines

A stopgap funding bill proposed by House Democrats to allow short-term spending and avoid a government shutdown includes an exemption to provide $1.6 billion for the development of new Columbia-class submarines. While this grants one defense-related exemption requested by the White House, the fate of the bill is uncertain as Republicans were quick to criticize the proposal for its lack of farm aid.

Congress has until Sept. 30, the end of the federal government’s fiscal year, to approve a bill to continue to fund government operations. The Democratic proposal would fund the government through Dec. 11 and provide $1.6 billion allowing the Navy to procure up to two Columbia-class submarines. The bill also allows the Navy to incrementally fund the subs.

An exemption is necessary for the work since stopgap measures allow funding to be approved at the current level, and the subs would be considered new spending. The White House previously asked for an exemption for the Columbia funds, as well as money for Space Force operations and a new nuclear warhead. The bill does not include funds for the latter two items.

The Columbia-class ballistic submarines will replace the aging fleet of Ohio-class boats. In June, the Navy awarded a $10.3 billion contract to Electric Boat in Groton to partner with Newport News Shipbuilding on the design and construction of 12 submarines.

The Pentagon has argued that there is no room for delay in the timeline for the Columbia-class submarines, saying the Navy will not be able to meet its U.S. Strategic Command requirements if design and construction does not proceed as scheduled. The new class of vessels is set to be operational in 2028.

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