Pres. Trump speaks aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford in Newport News

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY/AP) – President Donald Trump received a warm reception during his visit today to Newport News Shipbuilding – his first trip to the area since the election.

The president spoke aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford, a $12.9 billion futuristic aircraft carrier currently being built at the shipyard. The Ford is expected to be commissioned sometime in 2017.

Trump utilized the opportunity to promote his plans to build up the nation’s armed forces, including the Navy.

The speech comes just two days after Trump’s speech to Congress in which he proposed a $54 billion hike in defense spending.

Experts say that Virginia could see a sizable chunk of that money, considering the large military presence in the region.

ODU Economics Professor Vinod Agarwal said, “If we do increase the DOD spending by $54 billion nationally, it would have significant impact for this economy. Not necessarily in (2018), but you’ll start seeing it in ’19, ’20 and so on.”

Agarwal says 40 percent of the local economy depends on Department of Defense spending. He says the recession and sequestration have led the local economy to be stagnant in recent years.

Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) issued a statement Thursday afternoon regarding Trump’s visit:

I always welcome the opportunity for the President of the United States to visit with the world’s best shipbuilders in Newport News. President Trump will see firsthand how dedicated these men and women are to their trade and to making sure that our Navy’s aircraft carriers and submarines are the most advanced in the world.

I welcome the President’s call for increased shipbuilding, but I remain very concerned about how he intends to pay for it.  So far, all I’ve heard is that he intends to cut taxes, raise defense spending, and propose draconian cuts to non-defense discretionary spending. That means deep cuts to programs that support education, rebuild our infrastructure, ensure clean air and water, and protect workplace safety and public health. I hope that in the next days and weeks the President and his administration will provide more concrete details on his proposals.”

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