LIMA — For U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, funding the military is a priority, but that money has to come from somewhere.
Jordan expressed that sentiment Tuesday while accompanying U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R-Indiana, on a tour of Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima. Jordan also said he was glad to show the first-term congressman what this area has to offer when it comes to military infrastructure.
“This is a great product made by a great workforce designed to help our great country defend itself,” he said. “That’s the beauty of this place. It’s packed out there right now, and it’s obvious that they’re bringing folks back and employment is up. There are good things happening here like they always do.”
The plant is in line to get a significant funding boost after the Senate passed a revised version of the Defense Authorization Act originally passed by the House. The bill would allocate $1.8 billion to the facility to increase production of the upgraded Abrams tank, as well as more than $695 million for upgrading Stryker military vehicles. The bill is close to what the House passed, according to Jordan, and while the House and Senate will consider the revised bill together, it must reduce spending elsewhere to relieve the increasing debt.
“In the appropriations plan we passed out of the House last week, we significantly increased defense funding and we decreased nondefense discretionary spending,” Jordan said. “Now, there’s going to be a big debate. [Sen.] Chuck Schumer’s not going to like that, so we understand there will be a big fight.”
For Banks, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, it was helpful to see how JSMC operates, saying that he has constituents in his northeast Indiana district who travel to Lima to work at the plant.
“The work being done here every day by the men and women who work here is critical to preparing and equipping our war fighters abroad,” he said. “To see it firsthand gives me a better perspective.”
With increased tension between the United States and nations such as North Korea and Iran, the work being done at the plant is even more critical, according to Banks, who was deployed with the U.S. Navy Reserve to Afghanistan in 2014 and 2015.
“As the military has been focused on Iraq and Afghanistan, we’ve lost steps in preparing for some of the more traditional threats in North Korea, Iran, Russia and China, and that’s why the platforms that are being developed here are critical,” he said.
With voices in the Senate calling for a new round of base closures, Banks does not see that option as a positive, neither for Indiana nor Ohio.
“Indiana is really linked, in so many ways, with Ohio,” he said. “Whether it’s industry, different private sector companies working together in Indiana and Ohio, suppliers supplying parts to this plant or military installations like Crane [Naval Surface Warfare Center] in Indiana and Wright-Patterson [Air Force Base] in Ohio that work together every day, it’s important for me as a member of the committee to see how all that works. It’s led me to a strong belief that now is not the time for another round of [base closures]. Maybe another time, but not right now.”