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White House Seeks Stopgap Funding Exemption For Columbia Submarines

  • Budget uncertainty threatening to delay design and construction for Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine
  • Two-boat buy is classified as a new start and thus not eligible for authorization under a stopgap funding measure if Congress does not pass a budget
  • White House seeking an exemption for the submarines as well as several other defense measures

Uncertainty about the federal budget is raising the possibility that the design and construction process for the U.S. Navy’s new Columbia-class ballistic submarine may be delayed. Congress is expected to pass a stopgap spending measure to keep the government open after the 2020 fiscal year ends of Sept. 30, and the Columbia program would be considered a “new start” that would not be authorized under the measure.

The White House is asking Congress for an exemption to allow greater flexibility in funding the submarines, as well as other defense initiatives such as Space Force operations and a new nuclear warhead. The Navy has indicated that the Columbia-class submarine, the first new ballistic missile class submarine since the 1970s, is a top priority and that it needs to stay on schedule.

In June, the Navy awarded a $10.3 billion contract to Electric Boat in Groton to partner with Newport News Shipbuilding and build 12 new boats to replace 14 aging Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines. This award included $869 million for design work and $9.5 billion for the first two hulls, with the latter funding still awaiting approval under Congress’s 2021 fiscal year budget. The Columbia-class submarines are slated for delivery in 2028.

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