Sen. Mikulski Seeks to Protect Pax Base

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Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, raised questions on Navy budget priorities that are having a negative impact on the U.S. Naval Academy and Patuxent River Naval Air Station.

The Senator’s comments came as Secretary of the Navy Dr. David Winters testified at a committee hearing on President Bush’s FY 2007 Department of the Navy request.

A member of the Naval Academy’s Board of Visitors (BOV) since 1987, Senator Mikulski is concerned about a predicted funding shortfall of $7 million in the Academy budget this year. These budget constraints have led to 32 faculty vacancies at the Academy.

“What is being done to address the budget shortfall and fully staff the Academy’s faculty? The Academy cannot continue to turn out the best and brightest with shrinking resources,” said Mikulski. “This lack of funding could mean reduced professional training, a cut in the number of Academy professors, and threatens to limit the size of the incoming class of 2010.”

Navy officials are implementing a 20 percent workforce reduction at Pax River, located in Lexington Park, Md., where personnel are applying resources in innovative ways to meet the nation’s emerging threats, while creating thousands of high-tech jobs in Southern Maryland.

“Is the Navy sacrificing future maritime superiority for short-term cost savings? At Pax River, they are developing the smart new weapons and technologies that are going to keep America safe. Is the Navy satisfied with having 20 percent fewer smart new weapons and technologies?”

Senator Mikulski visited Pax River in November 2005 as part of her statewide military innovation tour. The Senator visited numerous military facilities on her tour, where she addressed the development of smarter tools for our military, new jobs for the state and innovative technology that will protect our troops.

“I want to be sure that we are making the right investments to develop the new ideas that will protect us,” said Senator Mikulski. “A stronger America begins at home, that’s why I have fought for federal investments will make our Navy smarter, our country safer and our economy stronger.”

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