The USS Milwaukee, the U.S. Navy's fifth littoral combat ship, was built at Marinette Marine and launched into the Menominee River, Dec. 18, 2013. (WLUK)
MARINETTE - Jobs at Marinette Marine look as if they will be safe, for the time being.Congress talked about funding for the littoral combat ship program Wednesday.Republican Congressman Reid Ribble says funding for Navy ships, like those built at Marinette Marine, have passed a House subcommittee.It's part of the larger National Defense Authorization Act. But that legislation still has more hurdles."If it's included in there, and so far it is in there, nothing has been removed yet, then it'll go to the floor of the House and ultimately to the Appropriations Committee after the authorizers are done," said Ribble.FOX 11's Kelly Schlicht reached out to Marinette Marine and Lockheed Martin for comment.A spokesperson released this statement, saying:"We are confident in our team's progress on the program, and won't speculate on pending legislation as these mark-ups are part of a multi-step process."Marinette Marine added 200 positions in March to finish building two more littoral combat ships.The Department of Defense has had its reservations about the LCS not being as versatile or technologically advanced as other ships.President Barack Obama's latest budget proposal calls for 32 new ships, instead of the 52 the Navy wanted.But Ribble doesn't expect funding for the current contracts in Wisconsin to fall through."I'm optimistic as of today. If something else were to happen between now and when we get to the floor of the House or if there are amendments on the floor of the House we will have to deal with that until the actual appropriations are complete."Marinette Marine currently employs about 2,000 people.If funding continues, current LCS projects will keep those workers busy through 2018.
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