Critical LCS votes expected Thursday on Capitol Hill

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)

A couple of critical votes are expected in Congress in the coming days that could impact the Littoral Combat Ship program.

Some of the ships are made at Marinette Marine.

The LCS program is part of the National Defense Authorization Act.

Rep. Reid Ribble, R-8th District, says the measure was debated on the House floor Wednesday, and a vote could happen early Thursday afternoon.

The proposal would approve full funding for two ships for next year. It also calls for the advance purchase of materials for two more. The Navy's original proposal would have funded all four ships.

Marinette Marine is one of two contractors building the ships. About 2,000 jobs in Marinette are directly linked with the LCS program.

There are worries about the shipbuilding program. The Department of Defense says the LCS is not as versatile or technologically advanced as other ships. And President Barack Obama's budget calls for fewer ships to be built.

Ribble says he is confident the measure will pass the House of Representatives, with the shipbuilding provisions intact.

"My contention was, the Navy had to meet their obligation to the shipyard because they invested all this money based on the Navy's promise of building these ships there and now it looks like they're going to meet that obligation," said Ribble.

There are also things going on over in the Senate regarding the LCS program. Members of the Armed Services Committee met Wednesday to work on their own proposal.

There's no word yet on how many ships would be funded for 2015. But Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin told FOX 11 on Monday that she's fighting hard for the program in the Senate.

"What I'm trying to do is to make sure that, at least at Marinette Marine, they have the opportunity to build two ships next year. That's what has to happen to avoid significant disruptions in the workforce there," said Baldwin.

Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan heads up the Senate Armed Services Committee. His office says a vote could happen by Thursday afternoon.

The overall process of funding defense contracts may not wrap up until August.