The House yesterday formally approved a measure giving the Navy permission to buy both classes of Littoral Combat Ship. This comes the same week Navy leadership made its case before the Senate Armed Services committee, asking for permission to buy the Freedom and Independence class ships before the end of the month.
While the House was expected to ok the move, the Senate is less of a solid bet; one Hill source called the Senate's intentions on the matter "very unclear." During this week's Senate hearing John McCain, R-Ariz., repeatedly slammed the program, calling it and embarrassment, and asked fellow lawmakers to study the issue for several more months. However, committee chairman, Carl Levin, D-Mich., came out in favor of the split buy along with committee member Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine also appeared receptive to the last minute deal.
Navy officials insist that they must act before the end of the month in order to lock in the two-class deal for 20 ships. Otherwise, they will move ahead with the original plan to choose a winner between LCS-makers Lockheed Martin and Austal USA.