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Committee Asking for More War Ships Is Led by a General Dynamics-Funded Rep

in Sludge
on July 29, 2021

Joe Biden’s Department of Defense budget request for 2022 was for a whopping $715 billion, a higher number than what activists on the left had hoped for but also a deceleration of the rate of growth for the Pentagon that Trump had proposed in his budgets.

While presidents’ budget requests guide the macro spending trends, the actual budget gets set by Congress, which takes the requests, tweaks the details, and then appropriates the money after the president signs off. Once Congress is done with the Defense budget, the amount is more often than not higher than what the president had requested, as one can see in Speaking Security’s analysis of military budget requests and actual spending since 2002. 

Obviously, giant Department of Defense contracting companies like Lockheed Martin and Boeing have a lot of political influence, but Congress also tends to structure itself so that those most beholden to their power are in key positions for influencing spending decisions. 

Biden’s 2022 budget called for the Navy to buy one fewer $2 billion Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer ship, which are made by General Dynamics Bath Works and Huntington Ingalls. However, the subcommittee with jurisdiction over Navy acquisitions this week marked up the annual defense authorization bill and called for putting the ship purchase back in

The Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces is chaired by Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), whose district is home to Electric Boat, General Dynamics’ submarine division. It’s one of the largest employers in Connecticut and provides thousands of high-salary jobs in Courtney’s district. 

“[President Joe Biden’s] budget arrived with an unexpected cut in the program of record for one of our core battle force platforms, the DDG 51 destroyer,” Courtney said according to Stars and Stripes. “In spite of these challenges, we once again have developed a mark that makes an independent assessment of our shipbuilding needs.”

Campaign donors and the Democrats’ dues system for committee and subcommittee chairmanships may also play a role. General Dynamics is Courtney’s top career donor, according to OpenSecrets, with its PAC giving him $72,000 over his career and employers of the company giving another $165,000. No representative received more money from General Dynamics’ PAC and employees in the last election cycle, according to OpenSecrets

The chairmanship of the Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces costs Courtney at least $175,000 each cycle in dues paid to his party, according to numbers in a leaked document published by The Intercept. Those dues typically are paid out of leadership PACs, and Courtney’s leadership PAC has benefited from $47,000 in donations from General Dynamics PAC since 2009. 

Other House Armed Service Subcommittee chairmen also have major defense companies in their districts that they rely on for campaign funding. 

  • Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee Chairman Rep. David Norcross’ (D-N.J.) district is home to L3Harris Technologies’ Camden campus and the company’s PAC has been his top career PAC donor, according to OpenSecrets. Many of the company’s sensor and electronics products fall under the subcommittee’s broad jurisdiction, including its electronic warfare systems for F-16 fighter jets. 
  • Subcommittee on Cyber, Innovative Technologies, and Information Systems Chairman Rep. Jim Langevin’s (D-R.I.) district is home to General Dynamics’ Quonset Point facility and the company has been his top career donor. General Dynamics has received cybersecurity contracts with the Department of Defense. 
  • Honeywell Aerospace Global Headquarters is in Phoenix in the district of Subcommittee on Intelligence and Special Operations Chairman Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Az.), whose campaigns the company’s PAC has given $36,000 over the years.   

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