U.S. House appropriations committee adopts language in 2013 defense appropriations bill blocking air force move to eliminate air national guard and air force reserve units

Rep. Lummis Amendment, supported by Congressman Alexander, Prohibits Air Force from using Fiscal Year 2012 or 2013 Funds to Eliminate Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve Aircraft or Units.

Important First Step in Saving 259th Air Traffic Control Squadron at Alexandria International Airport

England Airpark:  May 24, 2012

By a voice vote on May 17, 2012, the United States House of Representatives Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment offered by Rep. Lummis, of Wyoming, prohibiting the Air Force from following through on its recommendations to drastically cut Air Force Reserve and National Guard Units.  Specific to Central Louisiana is the 259th Air Traffic Control Squadron.  The Appropriations Committee subsequently adopted the Defense Appropriations Bill and forwarded the legislation to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

Representative Rodney Alexander, a key supporter in the effort to save the 259th ATC, sits on the Appropriation Committee.  Working with other Louisiana Representatives, the Louisiana delegation joined other Representatives in the effort to stop the Air Force recommendations concerning National Guard and Air Force Reserve Squadrons.

The adoption of the bill by the Committee is a major first step forward in saving the 259th ATC.  There are still a number hurdles that must be crossed before bill becomes adopted law.

The Lummis Amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill is as follows:

“None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to retire, divest, realign, or transfer Air Force aircraft, to disestablish or convert units associated with such aircraft, or to disestablish or convert any other unit of the Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve.”

The Lummis Amendment inserting language in the Committee Report:

“Furthermore, the Committee expects the Air Force to refrain from taking any actions during fiscal years 2012 or 2013, including the reduction of any Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve units, that would prejudice or preempt final decisions on force structure pending the enactment of final authorization and appropriations legislation by Congress." 

As to Passage of the Defense Appropriations Bill by the Committee:

William Barron, Chairman, England Authority:  “I would like to thank Congressman Alexander and the entire Louisiana House Delegation for their work on this issue.  We look forward to the passage of the Defense Appropriations bill in the full House.  This is not the end but a very important beginning made possible by Congressman Alexander’s presence on the Appropriations Committee.”

Jon Grafton, Executive Director, England Authority: “Congressman Alexander and Congressman Fleming have been in the thick of the fight since day 1.  Their staffs have worked tirelessly to make this Amendment possible.  We offer our sincere thanks for their efforts.

 

History:

In March, the United States Air Force announced the proposed disbanding of the 259th Air Traffic Control Squadron.  The announcement by the United States Air Force came without consultation or discussion with Senators Landrieu, Vitter or Congressman Alexander.  Further, the announcement came without the input of the Louisiana National Guard.

The 259th Air Traffic Control Unit is based at England Airpark.  The unit controls the movement of all aircraft in the airspace surrounding Alexandria International Airport (AEX).  The unit mans the air traffic control tower 24/7 at AEX while also providing radar, navigation aide and communication support.  The unit handles fixed wing aircraft from Cessna’s to C5/747; also full range of civilian and military helicopter activity.  The unit is a member of the Louisiana National Guard.  There are 110 persons in this unit.  The unit has a direct impact of over $3 million annually to the local economy.  The unit has deployed overseas on a number of occasions along with performing disaster relief duty in the United States. To date, the Squadron has safely deployed over 500,000 personnel, 170,000 tons of military cargo as well as supported numerous flag officers, foreign political and military visits in direct support of Ft. Polk.

A 259th web page has been established on the England Airpark website, www.englandairpark.org.  Citizens are encouraged to visit the page and sign the electronic petition supporting the 259th Air Traffic Control Squadron.  At the time of this release, over 1,200 signatures have been collected.

 Further information will be forthcoming regarding Central Louisiana’s efforts to save the 259th Air Traffic Control Squadron.  We ask the Central Louisiana media to widely distribute this information so that our citizens have a chance to support this effort.

The England Authority is a political subdivision of the State of Louisiana which owns and manages England Airpark, the former England Air Force Base.  England Airpark includes Alexandria International Airport and multiple conversion projects, for which it has been nationally recognized as the premier model for reuse and development of closed military bases.  Please see www.englandairpark.org