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Defense bill to include $90M for Lima tank plant

White House has tried to cut money to plant that employs 700.

Defying a request from the Obama administration, Senate and House negotiators will provide as much as $90 million to help keep alive the production line at the Army tank plant in Lima.

The money has been folded into the defense bill, which could win congressional approval as early as this week. For the past two years, the administration has asked Congress not to spend any money to refurbish the M1A1 Abrams battle tank, which is built at the Joint Systems Manufacturing plant in the northwest Ohio city.

Although the administration has contended that the plant can remain open through production and refurbishment of the Abrams for international customers, Ohio lawmakers have pressed for federal dollars to continue upgrading the tank and retain as many as 700 jobs at the facility.

Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, who chairs the House Armed Services subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land forces, said with the new money, the “Army can continue to produce the upgraded Abrams’ tank’’ at a rate that would “avoid a shutdown of the plant.’’

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said the compromise bill “seeks to avert the unnecessary risk placed on the Abrams industrial base by the president’s proposed budget,’’ adding that “a combination of production for both domestic and foreign use continues to be the right path forward.’’

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said lawmakers “worked on a bipartisan basis to ensure continued production’’ because “ending its production would have cost taxpayers more money than sustaining a steady production line. That is why I will continue to work with my colleagues to maintain the Lima tank plant as a critical hub of our national security.”

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