It would take an act of Congress to save the Air Force’s A-10, and yesterday, Congress showed that they only hoped to save themselves from a public relations nightmare.
While they negotiated in order to avoid a temporary shutdown and the temporary unemployment of pencils pushers, it appears that they neglected to save the planes and the pilots who push the envelope everyday to provide cover for our boots on the ground.
According to House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, who with Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray negotiated the budget deal announced last night, he “did not violate any of the Republican’s core values.” However, it was Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte who led the tireless fight against the Air Force’s campaign to mothball the aircraft. She and Senator Roy Blunt had hoped to tack on their amendment to the NDAA, which would have stopped the Air Force.
Petulant Senate President Harry Reid limited amendments, and Blunt and Ayotte received no assistance in the matter from Arizona Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake.
It is McCain and Flake’s constituents in Tucson, Arizona, who will likely feel the economic impact of Tuesday’s deal making. According to sources, the Air Force will move quickly to take advantage of congressional failure and begin almost immediately to mothball the multi-purpose, but less-than-glamorous plane known as the Warthog.
Sources expect a “drastic cut in flying hours right away” and about 500 people moving out of the 354FS this coming summer. Another 500 will be relocated in fall-winter 2014.
The loss will be devastating for the people of Southern Arizona and the boots on enemy ground.
President Obama released a statement that the deal was good because it would replace parts of the sequester cuts.
It will take an act of Congress, and only Congress, to save the plane now from an Air Force leadership that unrealistically dreams of air wars and fancy fighter jets.
There is a chance that Ayotte can work something out in the House outside of the NDAA, to save the A-10. Ayotte has hope that some movement will be made prior to the President’s budget rollout in Feb. 2014, according to sources.
Still, many fear that the Air Force will move aggressively against the A-10 in order to ensure that its divestment process is past the point of no return. As a result, A-10 supporters are hoping the public will ramp up their efforts to save not only the A-10, but the varied communities it serves.
Flake’s office declined to comment.
According to Fox News, one senior House Republican source predicted that the Republican Party “would have the votes to pass the deal, though they speculated the GOP may lose a “healthy chunk” on their side. Both Murray and Ryan expressed confidence the deal would pass as well, and called upon their colleagues to do so.”