Drawing of the new Columbia-class submarine U.S. Navy
Drawing of the new Columbia-class submarine U.S. Navy

Washington – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Monday unveiled a short-term spending bill that would avert a government shutdown – and allow the Pentagon to move forward with contracts with Electric Boat for two new Columbia-class submarines.

A short-term bill is needed to continue government operations after the end of the federal fiscal year, Sept. 30. But Congress has been deadlocked over the legislation, known as a continuing resolution, or CR, that would fund most of the agencies of the federal government at the budget amount approved for this fiscal year through Dec. 11.

The stop-gap measure unveiled by Pelosi does not contain provisions requested by the White House that would ensure that farm aid payments can continue flowing through the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), which has a borrowing limit of $30 billion. That omission could put the continuing resolution, which is expected to be approved by the Democratic-led House, in jeopardy in the Senate.

“House Democrats’ rough draft of a government funding bill shamefully leaves out key relief and support that American farmers need. This is no time to add insult to injury and defund help for farmers and rural America,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. tweeted.

Funding the Pentagon at this year’s level would not allow the Navy to move forward as planned on the Columbia-class submarine program. But the CR contains an “anomaly” that would allow the Navy to begin detailed design and construction work on two Columbia-class submarines.

Requested by the White House, the CR would provide $1.6 billion for the Columbia-class program and says the Navy can use “incremental funding” to make further payments under the contracts.

The Columbia-class submarines, which will replace the aging and retiring Ohio-class nuclear ballistic submarines, will be the largest and most expensive in the Navy’s history. Electric Boat in Groton and Virginia’s Newport News Shipbuilding have been chosen to design and build 12 of the new subs at a cost that will likely exceed $110 billion.

The CR would also extend the window for reimbursing government contractors for costs related to COVID-19 through Dec. 11.

Other “anomalies” in the House Democrat’s CR would extend for a year the National Flood Insurance Program to avoid a lapse in authority Oct. 1, when the government would no longer be able to write new policies or renew existing ones and extend funding for community health centers, the National Health Service Corps and other health programs through Dec. 11.

Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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