House passes defense bill with new Robins spending

wcrenshaw@macon.comMay 22, 2014 

Austin Scott, GOP candidate for 8th Congressional District

The House overwhelmingly passed a defense spending bill Thursday that is favorable to Robins Air Force Base.

Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ashburn, said he expects the provisions related to Robins will get approved by the Senate and signed by the president.

“All in all, I think this piece of legislation is good for Robins Air Force Base, and I think it’s good for the region,” he said.

The bill rejects the Pentagon’s attempts to retire the A-10 attack plane until it comes up with an alternative. The Boeing plant in Macon builds replacement wings for the A-10, and Moody Air Force Base is home to two A-10 squadrons.

The bill includes $73 million to begin a $2.4 billion program to replace the jets of the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System unit at Robins.

The bill also includes $27 million for a new headquarters building for Air Force Reserve Command at Robins. Earlier this year a special committee recommended dissolving the command and putting Reserve troops under the regular Air Force, but that suggestion was widely criticized. Putting the money for the headquarters in the budget is a further sign Congress has no interest in abolishing the command.

The bill also rejects a request for a Base Realignment and Closure Commission in 2017, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t still happen. Scott said he expects President Barack Obama will press harder for it in next year’s budget, possibly even using a veto threat.

Scott noted that President George W. Bush used a veto threat to get the 2005 BRAC approved.

The bill also calls for the Department of Defense to do a study to show exactly where its excess infrastructure exists. Scott said he expects that study will not show excess among the Air Force’s three maintenance depots, including the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex. He added, however, that it remains important for securing new workload to make the complex as efficient and effective as possible.

“At some point there will be another round of BRAC,” he said. “What we have to do is continue to position ourselves to grow.”

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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