Efforts by local congressmen to block moving a Norfolk-based aircraft carrier to Florida and to give more clout to opponents of the Navy's proposed outlying landing field won approval in the U.S. House in Washington on Thursday.Joy. Myopic localism at its worst.
The measures were included in the House legislation that would authorize $680 billion for defense spending in 2010, including a 3.4 percent pay raise for all service members.
The House kept intact an amendment that would cancel spending $46.3 million to dredge the harbor at Mayport Naval Station near Jacksonville, Fla., in preparation for a new carrier. The amendment was written by U.S. Rep. Glenn Nye, D-2nd District, and co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. Randy Forbes, R-4th District, and Rob Wittman, R-1st District.
Nye said Thursday that the amendment was not a hard sell in the House.
"I think we had the power of logic on our side," he said.
The three legislators have said it doesn't make sense to authorize spending money for the dredging when the Navy has agreed to wait another year to make a decision on carrier homeports.
"The Department of Defense needs to first determine whether or not moving a carrier away from Norfolk is a good idea before they start spending money on the transfer," Wittman said in a written statement after the vote.
The money for the dredging would be redirected to construction and repairs at Navy and Marine Corps Reserve facilities.
The defense bill also includes an amendment by Forbes that would give communities more control over whether the Navy could construct an outlying landing field, or OLF, in their jurisdiction.
Forbes' amendment would allow a county being considered for an OLF to have a final say on whether to accept it. The Navy would be unable to build a landing field if the local government formally opposed it within 90 days of final site selection.
U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican, also successfully included an amendment to the House bill that would prohibit building an outlying landing field at Sandbanks or Hale's Lake in the northeastern part of his state. The Navy has considered those locations and three others in Virginia's Southampton, Sussex and Surry counties.
I think in Latin it is, Magis expositus quod minor instructus.