A step in the process to approve funding for the A-10s has passe - Tucson News Now

A step in the process to approve funding for the A-10s has passed

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

An amendment has passed the House of Armed Services Committee, meaning the A-10 Thunderbolt II could be around for another year.

The legislation is expected to be taken up by the full House in two weeks.

The bipartisan amendment, presented by U.S. Representative Ron Barber passed just before midnight.

A release from Congressman Ron Barber's office read, in part:

U.S. Rep. Ron Barber's bipartisan amendment to prevent divestment of the A-10 in FY2015 passed the House Armed Services Committee just before midnight.

During a markup of the National Defense Authorization Act by the House Armed Services Committee, Barber offered an amendment to keep the A-10 flying. 

Late Wednesday night, the amendment was passed with support from 25 Democrats on the committee as well as 16 Republicans – despite opposition from Committee Chairman Buck McKeon. 

"Today the House Armed Services Committee took an important step to support our ground troops and prevent the A-10 from being divested," Barber, a member of the Armed Services Committee, said after the vote.

"We will continue this fight in the weeks to come," Barber added. "We will continue it together as a community in Tucson and I will continue to bring the fight to Washington alongside my colleagues in the House and Senate, Republican and Democrat alike." 

Barber's amendment was cosponsored by Republican Reps. Vicky Hartzler of Missouri and Austin Scott of Georgia. It will prevent the A-10 from being divested in FY2015 and require that an independent evaluation be conducted of planes the Air Force says can carry out the close air support mission to determine the cost of each platform and its capabilities to protect ground troops. 

The amendment also gained the backing of Congresswoman Candice Miller, a Michigan Republican. In a statement earlier Wednesday, Miller said: "Efforts are also underway in the House to preserve the A-10 fleet.

"Today, at a committee markup, a bipartisan group of House Armed Services Committee members, Representatives Hartzler, Scott and Barber, will introduce an amendment to the FY15 National Defense Authorization Act, expected to be on the House Floor later this year, that will preserve the fleet and require an analysis on the capabilities of alternate close air support planes," Miller added. "I strongly support this amendment and am thankful of the support demonstrated by the committed members of the House and Senate willing to stand up for the fleet."

In addition, support for Barber's amendment was sent by members of the Tucson community to Chairman McKeon and Ranking Member Adam Smith.

Ellen Jimenez of the Military Affairs Committee of the Tucson Metro Chamber of Commerce, Bruce Dusenberry of the Southern Arizona Defense Alliance and Vern Pall, Southern Arizona MOAA member all supported Barber's amendment.

Each of their letters called for support of Barber's efforts in committee to save the A-10 from divestment and protect the close air support capability so desperately needed by our ground troops.

"For our Service members who volunteer to face the enemy and put their own lives in harm's way, the A-10 being but a call away, is sometimes the only sense of comfort they have," wrote Jimenez.

"We are concerned that the Air Force proposal to divest the A-10 would significantly degrade the USAF capability in close air support (CAS) and other critical missions, such as combat search and rescue (CSAR) and forward air controller-airborne (FAC-A)," Dusenberry wrote on behalf of SADA.

"The A-10 is the most cost-effective, proven aircraft with great agility, lethal armaments, and survivability manned by pilots with a unique close air support expertise," wrote Pall, a retired Air Force colonel.

Copyright 2014 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.

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