The General Dynamics Corp. Land Systems' Joint Systems Manufacturing Center is the only place in the country where Abrams M1 tanks are built and refurbished.
"Mothballing the plant would be disastrous for the community and the military," Senator Portman said.
He said different versions of a bill are in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House. The senator said $181 million is in the House version and $91 million is in the Senate version.
For the second consecutive year, the Army's budget request has included nothing for building new or upgrading existing Abrams tanks, but Congress is again trying to give the program millions of dollars. Mr. Portman said Israel and Saudi Arabia are considering contracts for equipment from the Lima plant and said that was an indication of the worldwide recognition of the quality of vehicles produced there.
The Army originally wanted to idle its Abrams orders from 2013 until 2017, when it plans to unveil its next-generation Abrams tank. However, Congress approved $255 million last year that gave General Dynamics work to upgrade 46 tanks. The Pentagon again this year has requested no additional funds for the Abrams until 2017, meaning U.S. orders would dry up in June, 2014.
Also during the weekly conference call with reporters, Senator Portman said he was disappointed a bill that would have killed tighter restrictions on mercury emissions from coal-fired utility plants failed.
Mr. Portman said higher standards will force utilities to shut down older plants and that in turn will cost Ohio jobs and will raise electricity rates for users.
"It has already caused a number of companies to say they will shut down," he said. "I am concerned what it will do for jobs and rates."
The measure, sponsored by Sen. James M. Inhofe (R., Okla.), failed 53 to 46.