House defense bill takes step toward protecting Niagara Falls Air Baseby jmaloni
Hochul calls on Senate to adopt same language
On Friday, Rep. Kathy Hochul, NY-26, voted for the Defense Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2013, which was adopted by the House. Included in the bill are provisions that would prohibit the U.S. Air Force from retiring any aircraft in 2013 and increasing funding for the Air National Guard personnel accounts, thereby preventing cuts and protecting installations such as the 107th Airlift Wing at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.
"The passage of this legislation is another step toward ensuring the future of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, which is crucial to our national security and Western New York's economy. While this is an ongoing process, the bill passed tonight is another victory in our effort to protect the 107th Airlift Wing. I urge the Senate to pass the bill without delay," Hochul said.
In May, the House approved the National Defense Authorization Act, which included a bipartisan amendment cosponsored by Hochul. The amendment prohibits the U.S. Air Force from retiring any aircraft in 2013 and increased funding for the Air National Guard personnel accounts, thereby preventing cuts to the Air National Guard in hopes of protecting installations such as the 107th Airlift Wing at the Niagara Air Base.
Earlier this year, the Department of Defense announced a proposal to eliminate three C-130s and cut more than 800 positions from Niagara Falls. These cuts represent nearly 16 percent of the total reductions nationwide. In recent months, Hochul has led the fight in the House to push back on these severe cuts. She has met regularly with senior military leadership, including Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and has worked closely with the Western New York Congressional delegation to ensure the 107th Air Wing maintains a strong presence at the station.
Last week, Hochul questioned Air Force Lt. General Chris Miller, deputy chief of staff for strategic plans and programs at the House armed services subcommittee on readiness, about the absence of information surrounding the decision to close the Nigeria Falls Air Reserve Station and the need to bring new missions to the station.
The Air Base is comprised of the 914th and 107th Airlift wings, and is one of only two associate wings between the Air Reserve and Air National Guard in the U.S. In 2011, the station conducted more than 1,500 missions in both Iraq and Afghanistan. It provided critical air ambulance and other life-saving services in response to Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, and the earthquake in Haiti in 2010. As the sole military installation in Western New York and the largest employer in Niagara County, the base supports 3,500 employees and has an annual direct economic impact of $168 million.