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Thu May 30, 2013, 10:00 AM

Push To Keep Lima Tank Plant Gathers Steam Before HASC Markup


Push To Keep Lima Tank Plant Gathers Steam Before HASC Markup
Source: Colin Clark

CAPITOL HILL: Few here care more about the Lima, Ohio tank plant than Rep. Mike Turner, chairman of the House Armed Services tactical air and land force subcommittee. Mr. Turner hails from Ohio and was mayor of Dayton, which is not far from Lima — at least by Ohio standards. You just head straight north on Interstate 75.

Now Turner has gathered the support of more than one quarter of the House of Representatives to keep the plant open, getting over 120 lawmakers to sign a letter to Army Secretary John McHugh — once the HASC’s ranking member — urging him to keep the plant open by funding American work there. The Army, perhaps knowing that Congress will push money at the plant no matter what it says, argues that pending Foreign Military Sales will generate enough work to keep Lima operating. Congress, to put it simply, does not believe the Army and believes jobs are at stake. Lobbying by General Dynamics, operator of the government-owned plant, has helped encourage this conclusion.

The Army has refused to fund work at Lima for the next three fiscal years saying that it can reopen the plant when needed after three years. Congress has not bought those arguments, faced with job losses and what many on the Hill believe will be steep costs to restart the plant.

“The industrial base cannot be turned on and off like a light switch,” the letter argues. Failing to fund the fund plant in fiscal year 2014 would likely result in a production break in 2016 that would significantly impact the skilled workforce as well as drive many small companies out of business; leaving our Nation without the necessary industrial capacity to produce tanks when we need them.”

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