House Stopgap Bill Includes $1.6 Billion For Columbia-Class Submarines

Hugely expensive sub program was expected to face cuts

House Democrats released a stopgap funding for the US military included a substantial anomaly. While traditionally stopgap funding puts weapons programs on hold, this bill will set aside $1.6 billion to buy a pair of Columbia-class submarines, and also authorizes the Navy to keep funding the incredibly expensive Columbia-class program.

This was one of several anomalies sought by the White House and the Pentagon. The US Navy made it clear that the hugely expensive Columbia program is what they consider their top priority. That’s not to say funding it was a no-brainer.

Funding any weapons program with a stopgap is unusual. $1.6 billion for two submarines may seem a quibble, but it is part of a $109.8 billion weapons program, which is expected to yield 12 submarines that won’t begin patrols until the 2030s.

In a world where nuclear submarines are less and less of an issue, this expensive of a program is very controversial, which is why the Navy is pushing so hard to save it. Stopgap or no, Columbia was always going to be on the chopping block because of the huge costs of Covid-19.

Stopgap funding doesn’t prevent that in the future, and economic necessity probably will keep Columbia near the top of any potential cuts list. That may make including it in the stopgap particularly foolish, because they are paying for orders may never be delivered.

The stopgap was a perfect opportunity to stall funding on this latest weapons boondoggle. Instead Congress is taking Pentagon talk of top priorities at face value and funding them, even though the most expensive programs are always the top priorities.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.