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U.S. LAWMAKERS WANT TO RESTORE WARSHIP FUNDING

President Bush has proposed substantially cutting shipbuilding from the 2006 defense budget. In the past, the states have not worked together, since US shipyards compete with each other for some contracts. But as Maine Senator Susan Collins said, "This time, everyone is united."

The concern is that if shipyards are cut too deeply, some of them may not survive the lean years waiting for the Navy to expand its fleet. On February 10th, at the Armed Services hearing, Admiral Vern Clark said the shipbuilding cuts and the reduction of the carrier fleet were driven by budget restraints and not the Navy's needs. However, defense analysts contend even within the Navy there is a debate about how many ships are really needed and how many shipyards are required to build them. While some believe competing shipyards help drive down costs, others point out that costs will increase anyway since the Navy is only ordering a few ships. Moreover, many believe that the process is driven by politics anyway, and not competition.