Lawmakers on Capitol Hill aim to provide up to $90 million to keep production going at the world’s only factory for the M1A1 Abrams battle tank, in Lima, Ohio. Ideastream’s Brian Bull reports:
The Joint Systems Manufacturing Center (JSMC) builds and refurbishes the Abrams, which is considered one of the most lethal battle tanks in the world.
Both the White House and the Pentagon have said they’ve more than enough tanks and have asked Congress to cease funding and idle the plant until further technological improvements are developed for the Abrams.
Once again though, Senate and House leaders say they’ve worked out a deal to keep the JSMC going. Reasons include preserving national security, sustaining the regional economy, and keeping a specialized work force employed.
Ed Verhoff is President of Verhoff Machine and Welding, one of the local vendors that provides components for the Abrams. He says half of their military production relies on the heavy tank.
“We already have 30 people laid off," says Verhoff. "We are trying to change and get back into some other type of work with agriculture and things like that, to help fill the void. Automotive…some of the other markets…but y’know, it doesn’t happen overnight.”
Verhoff says they’re currently at 110 employees, but if production was idled he figures he’d have to cut his workforce down to 75.
Backers of the continued funding include Ohio Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, who say foreign orders can help keep the lines running.
The money for the JSMC is in the current defense bill, which could get congressional approval this week.