NEWPORT NEWS, VA. - President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit Newport News Shipbuilding today.
Shipyard spokeswoman Christie Miller told 13News Now she did not have specifics about the visit, but that she could say that Trump was expected to speak aboard the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford, a $12.9 billion warship that is expected to be commissioned this year after cost overruns and delays. He also is meeting with the carrier's builder.
The visit will be the President's first to Hampton Roads since his pre-election campaign stops. It also comes two days after his first address to Congress and hours after the latest administration controversy, this time involving Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who allegedly did not admit under oath to having contact with Russian officials during his confirmation hearing.
A draft budget plan released earlier this week by the White House would add $54 billion to the Pentagon's projected budget, a 10 percent increase.
"To keep America safe, we must provide the men and women of the United States military with the tools they need to prevent war - if they must - they have to fight and they only have to win," Trump said in his address to Congress on Tuesday night.
Trump, in his 2016 campaign, repeatedly pledged to rebuild what he called the nation's "depleted" military and told supporters at Regent University in Virginia Beach in October that the region's naval installations would be "right at the center of the action with the building of new ships."
He often argued that the U.S. military was too small to accomplish its missions and pledged to put the Navy on track to increase its active-duty fleet to 350 ships, compared to the current Navy plan of growing from 272 ships to 308 sometime after 2020.
The USS Gerald R. Ford, located at Newport News Shipbuilding, will be the first of the Navy's next generation of aircraft carriers and is expected to accommodate some 2,600 sailors.
Trump's speech to a joint session of Congress, his first as president, included his past calls for repealing the "defense sequester," or across-the-board budget cuts instituted by Congress. He will need the repeal to achieve the kinds of increased defense spending that he is seeking.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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