This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-LA) that would have prohibited the Defense Department from making payments to any defense contractor for activities relating to the closure of the shipyard manufacturing complex located in Avondale, Louisiana. This amendment was offered to legislation authorizing annual funding for Defense Department programs.
Richmond urged support for his amendment: “We have a business in Avondale, Louisiana that employs almost 5,000 shipbuilders. They were spun off this year. Northrop Grumman received $1.4 billion for this company. By the way, Northrop Grumman made $530 million this quarter. So the new company, Huntington Ingalls, is closing the shipyard. And because they're closing the shipyard, the U.S. government--the taxpayers of this country--will pay them up to $310 million for closing. That's insanity…And as I met with those employees last week, they said, Congressman, we don't know if you can stop it, but the offensive part, the part that makes this very hard for us, is the fact that our tax dollars are being used to pay our employer who is giving us all pink slips.”
Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) opposed the amendment: “Passage of this amendment may result in the government being liable for the costs of maintaining these idle facilities. If we're looking at the total picture here, we want to make sure we are making the most efficient decision in right-sizing this industry. And after a thorough review and endorsement by the Department of Defense, the contractor's plans to wind down ship construction were approved back in 2010. This amendment seeks to prohibit payments under existing Federal law for restructuring costs associated with the transition of the Avondale shipyard. And I want to emphasize `transition' is the key word here because as the law is currently written, it allows the facility in Louisiana to potentially be reconfigured to an alternate use in the future.”
The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 177-246. Voting “yea” were 158 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 19 Republicans. 217 Republicans and 29 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have prohibited the Defense Department from making payments to any defense contractor for activities relating to the closure of the shipyard manufacturing complex located in Avondale, Louisiana.