Wicker Statement on Biden’s U.S. Navy Budget

Armed Services Leader: We Need to Make a “Monumental Investment in American Shipbuilding”

March 15, 2023

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, today released the following statement in response to continuing reports on the specifics of the Biden administration’s budget for the United States Navy: 

“No matter the favored phrase of the day – ‘divest to invest,’ ‘strategic pause,’ ‘capability over capacity,’ – the President’s defense budget is, in practice, sinking our future fleet,” Wicker said. “A strong naval footing begins with readiness today and a plan to grow our battle force and command the seas tomorrow. President Biden is risking our maritime security by declining to work toward either of these goals.”  

“Even as the Chinese Communist Party makes its bid for rapid control of the Pacific, this White House is failing to offer a blueprint to secure our interests. There is no time to waste to make a monumental investment in American shipbuilding.” 

Among other issues, President Biden’s proposed budget causes risks for future Navy programs by: 

  1. Proposing reducing Naval Reactors by 5.6 percent (to $1.96 billion) relative to the FY23 enacted budget, even as the AUKUS agreement adds extreme strain on the American submarine industrial base. 
  2. Disregarding the Commandant of the Marine Corps’ repeated description of 31 as the minimum number of amphibious warships he needs. Retirement of three LSDs and an expected “strategic pause” in buying the modernized LPD-17 Flight II would bring the amphibious fleet below the statutory requirement of 31 ships. 
  3. Flattening the Navy Shipbuilding request, which represents just a 2.5 percent growth over the FY23 enacted budget and is not even expected to keep up with inflation. Total new ships requested will decrease from 12 to 9, including ending the T-ATS, EPF, and LPD lines in future years. 
  4. Suggesting that the Navy prematurely retire 11 ships – including 2 recently-built Littoral Combat Ships – while only requesting the construction of 9 new ships. This action would decrease the number of active ships and take the Navy further away from the statutory 355-ship goal. 

Wicker has long advocated for substantial investments in naval and defense infrastructure through legislation, such as the 2021 SHIPYARD Act, and measures in the annual defense authorization bill. Read more about Wicker’s work on national defense here.