U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lieutenant Governor Sheila Simon today joined newly confirmed Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James in a visit to Scott Air Force Base. Sen. Kirk is the ranking member of the Senate Military Construction and Veterans' Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees discretionary spending for military base construction. Sen. Durbin is the chair of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees discretionary spending for our nation's military, including bases.
"I want to congratulate Secretary James on her recent confirmation and thank her for coming out and visiting the men and women of Scott Air Force Base today. Scott is the nerve center for the Department of Defense's logistics operations, and the 618th Tanker Airlift Control Center and 126th Air Refueling Wing are two elements of this unmatched capability," Sen. Kirk said. "Whenever there is a crisis in the world, the service members at Scott enable our nation's ability to respond. I look forward to continuing my bipartisan work with Senator Durbin to protect Scott and its important missions."
"Scott Air Force Base is a crucial part of the region's economy and our nation's defense. Every time I visit I come away so impressed with the quality of the people and work here," Sen. Durbin said. "In today's visit Secretary James, the highest-ranking member of the Air Force, had a chance to hear about the critical missions and strong community support here. I'm glad the Secretary is taking the time to acquaint herself with our most important defense installations and that she was able to see for herself why I am always so eager to praise Scott."
"Scott Air Force Base is an economic engine that employs thousands of workers and supports the growth of the entire region, and it is important that we continue looking at ways we can maximize Scott's impact," said Lt. Governor Simon. "We are committed to showing the nation all Scott has to offer."
As Secretary of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James is the service branch's highest ranking civilian and highest ranking member of its chain of command, reporting directly to the Secretary of Defense. She is responsible for organizing, training, equipping and providing for the welfare of the more than 690,000 active duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian Air Force personnel and their families and also oversees the Air Force's annual budget of more than $110 billion.
James was confirmed to her position in December. She has 30 years of senior homeland and national security experience in the federal government and private sector.
During the visit, James and the elected officials toured Scott's Air Operations Center and the 126th Air Refueling Wing. They also met with civic and business leaders from nearby communities to discuss the strong local and regional support for the base.