LIMA — Funding for the Abrams tank program is included in the House-Senate negotiated appropriations bill that became public Monday night, U.S. Rep. Mike Turner and U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said Tuesday.
The fiscal year 2014 Consolidated Appropriations bill includes $90 million in additional funding for the Abrams tank program at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center.
The money was first inserted into the defense authorization and then the defense appropriation.
When President Barack Obama presented his 2014 plans to Congress, no funding was included for Abrams tanks, which are upgraded and manufactured in Lima. However, the negotiated bills between the House and Senate Armed Services Committees contained additional funding for the Abrams tank program, according to Turner, who chairs the Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land.
While the Pentagon has sought to shutter the program to save money until an updated tank is ready for production, a bipartisan group in Congress and a local task force has advocated to maintain minimal production until then. Members of Congress and Task Force LIMA believe it would actually cost more in the long run to close and then restart the program, and also jeopardize national security interests by losing the local skilled industrial workers.
“The Lima plant plays a unique role in contributing to our national security as the only producer of the Abrams tank. Given that the Army has said it will continue to need this capability in the coming years, it is essential that we keep this critical defense capability in place.” Portman, R-Ohio, said.
The JSMC is producing about 12 tanks a month. The facility has not actually built new tanks for years; it significantly updates old ones. The JSMC is also doing a small amount of work on the Stryker military vehicle and in what is called a low rate of production phase on a tank for Israel through a foreign sales contract between the United States and Israel. That tank will move into higher production later this year.
Turner, R-Dayton, chairs the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land. He is helping to clear the way for the JSMC to do work for interests other than the Army.