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Hochul urges two cabinet secretaries to strengthen Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station

by jmaloni
Wed, Feb 15th 2012 09:00 pm

Today, at a House Armed Services Committee hearing and later at a House Homeland Security Committee hearing, Congresswoman Kathy Hochul questioned Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on the future of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station and the need to create incentives for the federal government to do more to procure products made in America.

As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, Hochul spoke with Panetta about the need to bring a new mission to the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.

"This week, the administration announced its intentions to invest in a new flight simulator at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, highlighting the important role NFARS plays in our national security," Hochul said. "Now we must work to bring a new mission to Niagara Falls to further strengthen this installation."

Later, in a House Homeland Security Committee hearing, Hochul spoke with Napolitano about additional investments at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, like a new customs and border protection station that will house up to 75 agents.

Hochul added, "The construction of a new customs and border protection station will not only help protect our border, but will also add a valuable boost to the Western New York economy with the creation of up to 75 new jobs. As a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, I understand the threats related to the border, which is why I will continue to fight to bring this station to Niagara Falls."

Earlier today, Hochul and the rest of the Western New York delegation sent a letter to Napolitano and Acting-Commissioner David Aguilar of U.S. Customs and Border Protection urging them to construct a new border patrol station at NFARS.

In addition, Hochul questioned Panetta and Napolitano on other priorities, including the need to ensure the U.S. military is using equipment and uniforms made by American manufacturers, stressing the importance of Urban Area Security Initiative funding for cities such as Buffalo and Rochester, and providing funding for Western New York's border through the Beyond the Border initiative.

The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is the single military installation in Western New York and the largest employer in Niagara County. The installation plays a critical role in this nation's security - last year alone conducting more than 1,500 missions in both Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as providing critical air ambulance and other life-saving services in response to Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, and the earthquake in Haiti. The base supports 3,500 employees and has an annual direct economic impact of $168 million.

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