U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree and Bruce Poliquin helped thwart a bid Thursday to require the construction of three extra Virginia-class subs by reducing funding for other military hardware, including $250 million earmarked for Bath Iron Works’ destroyer program.

A bipartisan vote of 267-144 shot down the amendment sought by U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., and U.S. Rep. Rob Whitman, R-Va., whose districts include companies that build submarines.

“In blocking this initiative, we’ve helped to ensure that the best shipbuilders in the world, the hardworking men and women of BIW, will continue to do this important work here in Maine,” Pingree and Poliquin, Maine’s representatives from the 1st and 2nd Congressional Districts, respectively, said in a joint news release.

Pingree is a Democrat; Poliquin is a Republican.

“I’m glad that Congressman Poliquin and I were able to beat back this amendment, which would have wastefully diverted funds away from Bath Iron Works,” Pingree said.

“This is a big win for the thousands of hardworking, highly skilled shipbuilders” in Bath, Poliquin said. “I’m thrilled this amendment was rejected, and I will continue to work to oppose any language that would cut funding from these ships. We must ensure that BIW can continue doing its important work to keep America strong, safe and free.”

Courtney’s amendment to the $675 billion defense bill sought to add more subs to counter what he said are growing threats from Russia and China.

Deputy Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan, in a letter to lawmakers, said upping the submarine building schedule from two to three subs annually would diminish the Navy’s overall force. Adding more subs, he said, would slash the buys of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, oilers and fast frigates.

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The future USS Michael Monsoor leaves Bath Iron Works to head out to sea for trials Monday, Dec. 4, 2017, in Bath. The ship is the second in the stealthy Zumwalt class of destroyers. (Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press)


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