Senate committee throws lifeline to USS George Washington

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner say Hampton Roads can breathe a sigh of relief. It looks like the USS George Washington, commissaries, and up to $2 billion in our local economy will be saved.

The future of the George Washington has been on rough waters lately. Sequestration threatened early decommissioning, and the President’s 2015 budget did not include money to pay for its refueling. But on Tuesday, the Senate Appropriations Committee announced $848 million to refuel the aircraft carrier.

“That money is in the bill that was rolled out [Tuesday] as a bipartisan bill to come out of senate appropriations with a strong bipartisan vote,” Senator Kaine told WAVY.com.

Senators Kaine and Warner told 10 On Your Side all four committees — the senate armed services,  house armed services,
house appropriations and senate appropriations — have indicated they support the funding. They’re confident the George Washington will be spared, and along with it, the Hampton Roads economy.

Senator Warner added, “Another piece of good news for Hampton Roads community — the appropriations committee agreed with Senator Chambliss and I and said they shouldn’t take the proposal to cut the commissaries.”

But with all this good news, the future of Langley Air Force base remains unclear. 10 On Your Side reported Monday that 742 positions will be cut at the Hampton base. Both senators assure most of these positions are already vacant, and they have a new plan in the works.

“I, along with others, are going to fight to see that a new command center that’s been announced, we’re going to try to make the case that Langley is the right place for it,” Senator Kaine said.

Senator Warner added,  “We ought to be in serous consideration for this 350 new positions that would come with a mission support center.”

The future of the George Washington is not a done deal. Congress must still vote on it.

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