Portman Continues to Deliver for Lima Tank Plant and Its World-Class Workforce

March 20, 2019 | Portman Difference

Today, Senator Portman was proud to be with President Trump in Lima, highlighting the president’s FY 2020 budget request for the production of M1 Abrams tanks and Stryker combat vehicles at JSMC and celebrating the great men and women who work at this strategic plant. The JSMC is the only place in America where we can do this kind of work—which is vital to our National Defense. Portman applauded the president’s 2020 budget request which includes $1.753 billion to upgrade 165 M1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks as well as to increase the rate of production. This is a $226 million increase from last fiscal year’s $1.52 billion. This budget funding also includes $249 million for upgrading Stryker Vehicles. Both of these weapons systems are vital to our military retaining its advantage in lethality on the battlefield. In the future, we expect to see a growth in the workforce here at Lima, as more good paying, highly technical jobs are created.  This is great news both of Ohio and our Nation. 

While the Obama administration proposed shuttering the plant in 2011, Portman has made a commitment to ensuring the long-term viability of the JSMC since taking office, and ensuring this vital facility can continue its critical work on the military’s Abrams tank and Stryker vehicle. Under Portman’s leadership from 2013-2015, Congress increased funding in the appropriations process and supplemented appropriations with foreign military sales to allow the plant to continue operating at minimal production levels.  Production increased in 2016 and continues to be strong and on the rise. 

Here are a few ways that Portman has made a difference in preserving the JSMC and protecting Lima’s skilled employees that provide a unique capability to our national security and defense industrial base: 

  • Keeping the Lima Plant Open, Protecting Lima Jobs.  In 2011, the Obama administration proposed shutting down the Abrams tank production line at the JSMC.  It was a short-sighted proposal, and one Senator Portman and other Ohio delegation members fought and successfully defeated because it was wrong for our national security, wrong for taxpayers, and wrong for Lima.  Portman worked to help keep the line going and have it ready for upgrading the Army’s tanks to the newest version beginning in 2017.  The Army continues producing a new upgrade of the Abrams tank that our servicemembers need to confront the threats of today and the future.  Fortunately, Lima workers, the supply chain and the infrastructure at the plant all stand ready to do just that. 
  • Securing Funding for Abrams and Stryker Upgrades.  Since 2015, Portman has fought for legislation to authorize and fund more than $1.6 billion to increase the rate of production of the newest upgraded Abrams tanks. As well as $622 million to complete the fourth Stryker brigade with upgraded survivability and mobility improvements as well as a second brigade of Stryker vehicles with an upgraded weapons system. The funding was included at the urging of Portman and Senator Gary Peters (D-MI). Then in 2018, President Trump signed into law legislation Portman championed to authorize $1.5 billion in funding to upgrade 135, or 1.5 brigades worth, of Abrams tanks — increasing the rate of production of the newest upgraded Abrams tanks in Lima in order to ensure that our forward deployed tanks have the most cutting-edge capabilities.  The measure also included $225 million for upgrading Stryker Vehicles, a $203 million increase over the president’s budget request for these upgrades. Portman has made clear he will continue to keep fighting for more funding for Lima. 
  • Protecting Lima Workers.  Portman has also led efforts to help Lima workers who lost their jobs because of lower production levels at the JSMC from 2013-2015.  Portman led the efforts to address the backlog of maintenance which was jeopardizing the safety of our workers and the effectiveness of the plant and since 2015 Congress has funded JSMC with over $68 million—making it a safer and more effective facility for our great workers. In 2013, Portman organized a one-day fly-in for Task Force LIMA members to meet with various officials at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill to advocate for JSMC.  One of these meetings was with Department of Defense’s (DOD) Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA), which helped Lima officials learn more about applying for OEA grants to help communities whose workforce is affected by changes in DOD contracting or basing decisions.  In 2014, Portman announced that Allen County received an OEA phase one grant of more than $200,000.  In October 2015, Portman and Senator Brown announced that Allen County was being awarded more than $3 million in a phase two grant.  As work on the Abrams tank and Stryker vehicles continues to ramp back up, Portman is hopeful that JSMC will be re-hiring many of these workers. 

As the global security environment has evolved – especially Russia’s aggression in Eastern Europe – so too has the importance of armored vehicles for our Army’s ability to help keep America safe.  In 2018, Portman visited the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Germany, and became the first member of Congress to see the modernized Stryker ICV-Dragoon and Javelin-equipped vehicles forward deployed. Portman also visited allies in Eastern Europe, including Latvia, Poland, and Ukraine and has seen firsthand how important the U.S. presence in Europe is to our allies in the region and got an up-close look at how the work being done in Lima at the JSMC helps support our national security objectives overseas.  

That is why Portman has worked closely with his colleagues and both the Obama and Trump administrations to promote the work being done in Lima. The president’s visit was important because it gave him a firsthand look at the great work being done at the JSMC.  Here’s what Portman said about the visit: 

The best tanks and armored vehicles in the world are made in Lima, Ohio.  The JSMC and our Ohio workers are not just making our country safer, they’re supporting our allies around the world during some very dangerous times. JSMC Lima is a strategic asset for the United States and its workers are key contributors to our Nation’s defense and security.  I am proud to have been a part in keeping the plant viable during a critical time and with President Trump’s focus on keeping our military strong and supplied with the best weapons, I am excited about JSMC’s future.” 

For more information on Portman’s work to protect Lima’s workers and keep national security strong, see his op-ed in Lima News