Iowa Congressman Tom Latham is calling on his U.S. Senate counterparts to vote on and approve a measure offered by Iowa Senator Charles Grassley that would block funding for the transfer or retirement of Air National Guard aircraft until the completion of two independent cost-benefit analyses. The Senate proposal, an amendment to legislation that funds the government for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2013 (H.R. 933), is similar to legislative text and standalone legislation that Latham pushed in the U.S. House last year.
Congressman Latham originally worked with his House colleagues in 2012 to include language in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to freeze the proposed retirement of all Air Force aircraft for the remainder of the year while a cost-benefit analysis from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office was completed. The Senate approved similar language in their version of the bill. However, at the insistence of the White House and Senate allies, the provision was dropped from the final bill before passing without Latham's support.
Latham later introduced the measure as a standalone piece of legislation before the conclusion of the 112th Congress. Both the NDAA provision and Latham's bill would have applied to the Iowa Air National Guard's 132nd Fighter Wing, which stands to lose its F-16 mission without action.
While the issue remains unresolved, Latham praised the Senators behind the initiative to block the Air Force cuts, including Grassley, and pledged to fight for the proposal should it pass the Senate.
"I was deeply disappointed that negotiators on last year's defense authorization bill rejected the bipartisan proposal to block the arbitrary Air Guard cuts, but it is encouraging that the work has carried into this year," Latham said. "I commend Senator Grassley and his colleagues for undertaking this effort to ensure that cuts to key military assets are properly reviewed and justified before taking effect, and I am hopeful that the measure is passed in the Senate and sent back to the House for approval."
"I'll say it again: the Iowa Air Guard's 132nd Fighter Wing is a model unit of our nation's Armed Forces, and decisions to alter its mission and the missions of similarly successful units have to be rationalized," Latham continued.
The Senate is scheduled to act on H.R. 933, to which the Air Guard amendment would be offered if made in order, this week.