LIMA —Task Force LIMA and the Abrams tank program received good news Thursday, with the approval of government spending through this year that includes money for tank production and Pentagon flexibility in managing the sequestration budget cuts.
The continuing resolution that funds the government for the rest of 2013 includes $255 million for the Abrams program, Cameron Warner, a legislative aide to U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, said at the task force meeting Thursday. The Senate passed the spending measure Wednesday, and the House passed it Thursday.
The measure also includes language that gives the Pentagon some flexibility to manage the mandated and automatic spending cuts that began at the beginning of the month.
The Joint Systems Manufacturing Center, which builds the Abrams battle tank, hasn’t been affected by those sequestration cuts, General Dynamics Plant Manager Keith Deters said.
In December and February, the facility made some temporary layoffs to preserve work time later in the year, Deters said. Those three-week layoffs are over. The plant is making about 12 to 13 tanks a month now, and Deters expects that by the beginning of 2014, that work will tick back up to about 20 a month, or one tank a day.
The Pentagon also is delaying its furlough plans by at least two weeks, according to Politico. The first furlough warnings will be pushed back to April 5, as the Pentagon takes time to analyze the temporary spending measure Congress passed this week.
The JSMC has some government employees, but most of its workers are employed by General Dynamics, a contractor that operates the federally owned facility.
Task Force is planning a spring lobbying trip to Washington to visit with members of Congress, legislative aides and military officials in the Pentagon. The Pentagon wants to shutter the Abrams program temporarily to save money until the new version is ready.
Members of Congress and the task force say it will cost more money to bring the program back up if it is shut down and the temporary closure could result in a national security risk with a loss to the industrial base. Through lobbying of Congress, that window has been narrowed.
The group plans to lobby other members of Congress in their own districts, taking with them suppliers of the Abrams program that operate companies in those districts.