Members of the Utah Congressional Delegation -- U.S. Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), and Reps. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), and Chris Stewart (R-Utah) -- today met with General Mark Welsh, the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, to discuss a number of issues important to Utah, including sequestration and delivery of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) regrettably was unable to attend due to a scheduling conflict.
HATCH: "I really appreciated the opportunity to sit down with General Welsh and talk about some of the most pressing issues facing the Air Force today. General Welsh assured us that the Air Force is doing everything it can to deal with the sequester in a responsible way, and we're going to hold him to his word. And we're now in the third delay of the delivery of the F-35 -- this has been studied, it's been discussed, and it's high time to move forward with the delivery of the jet."
LEE: "I was proud to join with the Utah delegation today to further cement the longstanding friendship between Utah and the Air Force. I greatly appreciate the candid conversations we were able to have with General Welsh and General Hostage, and discuss issues facing the Air Force in our state and across the country. Sequestration is having a devastating effect on the readiness of the Air Force, and today's meeting underscored the fact that the massive federal debt is a national security problem. We must have a balanced budget and return fiscal sanity to Washington in order to return readiness to our fighting forces."
BISHOP: "I appreciated the chance to talk personally with the Air Force Chief of Staff General Welsh about the detrimental impact that furloughs of civilian defense workers will have at Hill Air Force Base. General Welsh agreed that the planned furloughs ordered by Secretary Hagel will unfortunately be disruptive and costly to our dedicated civilian workforce. He pledged to continue to work with the delegation and Pentagon Leadership on trying to find ways to mitigate those impacts as much as possible."
CHAFFETZ: "I thank General Welsh for meeting with the delegation to discuss important issues concerning the mission of the Air Force in Utah. Hill AFB plays a critical role in our nation's defense. We will continue working together to ensure the Air Force's presence in Utah for years to come."
STEWART: "I was grateful for the opportunity to meet with General Walsh today, along with other members of the Utah Delegation. As a former Air Force pilot, I know first-hand how critical it is for our nation to have a strong, able and equipped Air Force and military. We need to work to find solutions to some of the current challenges at Hill Air Force Base, including furloughs due to sequestration and grounded flight squadrons. I was encouraged by today's meeting and trust that General Walsh will do all that he can to minimize the effects of sequestration and continue to support Hill Air Force Base."