ICYMI: Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson Works to Save A-10

Posted on 10/09/15 in Uncategorized, No Comments

Idaho State Journal

October 5, 2015

A 2016 military appropriations bill that would maintain funding for the A-10 Thunderbolt IIs based at Idaho National Guard headquarters at Boise’s Gowen Field is being pushed by Idaho congressman Mike Simpson. However, the conference report on the appropriations received a “no” vote from Idaho congressman Raul Labrador.

The appropriations bill easily passed the House in June with a 278-149 vote and a subsequent vote on the House appropriations conference report passed 270-156 on Oct. 1.

The appropriations bill faces a threatened veto by President Barack Obama because of its failure to fund a round of Base Redevelopment/Environmental Cleanup known as BRAC in 2017, restrictions on the closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba and the shifting of Department of Defense overseas funds to sidestep Budget Control Act spending caps.

This strategy of shifting Department of Defense overseas contingency operations is the main reason Rep. Labrador voted against the conference report.

The conference report includes Idaho funding that prevents retirement of the A-10 Thunderbolt II, a squadron of which currently operates at Gowen Field in Boise. And it also authorizes funding for the aircraft to continue operating.

“By ensuring the A-10 remains available for close air-support, we are responding to the needs of the service members that operate them and to the brave men and women on the ground that rely on them,” Simpson said in a press release issued recently. “While I certainly acknowledge that the Air Force must make difficult decisions in this time of reduced budgets, the A-10’s low operating costs and unique capabilities merit our continued support until an appropriate replacement can be identified. I am pleased today’s conference report recognizes the unique importance and contributions of the A-10.”

The conference report also delays the transfer of AH-64 Apache helicopters from the Army National Guard to active duty Army through June 30th of fiscal year 2016. The Apache helicopters also operate at Gowen Field.

Rep. Labrador objects to the funding bill despite the advantages to Idaho military operations.

“The bill uses a budget gimmick to classify about 15 percent of Defense spending as ‘Overseas Contingency Operations,’ overriding the one meaningful act of Congressional restraint since I took office — the spending caps in the 2011 Budget Control Act,” Labrador said in an Oct. 2 online letter to voters.

“Unfortunately it’s become routine for Congress to avoid confronting our spending problem, leaving the hard work to future lawmakers and saddling our children and grandchildren with the economic consequences.”