CAPITOL HILL: The congressional push to keep the Lima, Ohio tank plant open — regardless of the Army’s opinion that it will stay open without lawmakers’ help — picked up steam again as the Senate Appropriations Committee prepares to mark up its bill.
Two senators have written the defense appropriations chairman, Sen. Richard Durbin, arguing that the Army’s argument that Foreign Military Sales will be sufficient to keep Lima running is not true because “expected overseas sales have not closed in the time frame necessary to maintain Abrams production.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown — yes, of Ohio — and Sen. Robert Casey — of Pennsylvania where important work is done on both the Abrams and the Bradley Fighting Vehicle — ask Durbin to add funding for upgrades to 24 M1A2 tanks to the 2014 appropriations bill.
General Dynamics, which runs the government owned plant, has gotten strong support in the House from the House Armed Services Committee, which included authorization language for Abrams $168 million in upgrades in its bill and report: “…the committee believes that reliance upon FMS alone poses an unacceptable level of risk to our heavy vehicle industrial base, and thus to our national security.” The upgrades would be for National Guard tanks.
Senator Durbin is, of course, from Illinois, a state with close relations to Ohio and possessed of a keen understanding of Ohio’s industrial problems.