Gov. Chris Gregoire today issued the following statement, commending the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee for passing an amendment to stop all proposed cuts next year to the Air National Guard:
"For months, funding for our Air National Guard has been at significant risk. And for months, as Co-Chair of the Council of Governors, I have been working tirelessly to stop the proposed cuts. Just yesterday, I was in Washington, D.C., and met with the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Carl Levin, to express my concerns over the Air Force budget proposal.
"Today, I commend the work of Chairman Levin, Ranking Member Senator John McCain and members of the Senate Armed Services Committee for their effort in preventing the proposed reductions to the Air National Guard for federal fiscal year 2013 in the National Defense Authorization Act they just adopted.
"I am fully aware of the need for the military to restructure and make reductions, but the original budget proposal was simply unacceptable. The disproportionate cuts would have meant a huge loss to the state of Washington, including the elimination of an entire Air National Guard unit now serving in Afghanistan, in addition to equipment and personnel currently serving on both sides of our state.
"I'm pleased that the Senate Armed Services Committee adopted a measure that stops the proposed cuts, and I am hopeful that the full Senate maintains the provisions. I also thank Washington's Adjutant General, Major General Timothy Lowenberg, who has already spent countless hours fighting to preserve the Air National Guard. I'm confident he will continue to do so as the full Senate takes up the issue.
"With the U.S. House of Representatives already having passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act that similarly prevents the proposed reductions, Congress clearly understands what my fellow governors and I, together with our Adjutants General, have been advocating for -- the need to ensure that our states and nation continue to have access to an efficient, reliable and skilled Air National Guard."