Newspaper article Roll Call

Freshman's Campaign Issue Gets D.C. Attention

Newspaper article Roll Call

Freshman's Campaign Issue Gets D.C. Attention

Article excerpt

Arizona Rep. Martha McSally's top local campaign issue will get legislative play on Capitol Hill, just a few months into the vulnerable Republican's first term in Congress.

McSally wants to preserve funding in the defense budget for the Air Force's A-10 Warthog fleet, the very planes she commanded as the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat. The Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, a primary training facility for A-10s, sits squarely in the borders of Arizona's 2nd District and is a crucial part of her community's economy.

The Air Force and the Pentagon want to retire this particular fleet. But as CQ Roll Call reported Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee likely will include funding for the planes and the personnel that keep them flying in the 2016 defense authorization mark.

That would be a victory for McSally, who has fought for these funds.

Both McSally and former Democratic Rep. Ron Barber, whom she ousted last fall, hailed the A-10 during the campaign in the Tucson- area district. Barber touted his efforts to preserve the funding, while McSally spoke often about her personal history with the A- 10s.

This issue surfaced in the last Congress, when Armed Services left out A-10 funding and Barber proposed an amendment to prohibit retiring the planes and use war funding to pay for them.

A number of members, including current Chairman Mac Thornberry, R- Texas, opposed the Barber amendment because of how it would be funded. Some members warned it could have cascade effect of using war funding for favorite projects. Still, the amendment passed with the help of Democrats, who could have been trying to protect their vulnerable colleague.

A committee aide told CQ Roll Call the current mark from the chairman does not include language that would prohibit the retirement of the planes, but McSally could propose such an amendment. She has explicitly spoken out against the plane's retirement, writing in a New York Times op-ed that American troops would suffer if A-10s were retired before a suitable replacement for its capabilities had been developed. …

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