A-10 proponents in the US Senate are working hard to find money that would keep the US Air Force's Thunderbolts flying for another year, despite the service's efforts to retire the fleet, says Sen Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. (US Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jamal D. Sutter)
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WASHINGTON — The Senate’s Pentagon spending bill likely will include language blocking an Air Force proposal to cut costs by retiring its A-10 attack plane fleet, a key member tells CongressWatch.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a member of the Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee and a leading A-10 proponent, said panel members are “working hard on” language that would keep the planes flying next year.
Doing so would require a budgetary offset — meaning a cut to something else within the Pentagon’s budget — to pay for A-10 operating and maintenance costs for the year.
“We’re getting close,” Graham said when asked if A-10 proponents have settled on an offset.
If the Senate’s defense appropriators insert language to block the Air Force’s plan, it will mean A-10 proponents scored a clean sweep of all four annual defense bills.
The House this spring approved a fiscal 2015 National Defense Authorization Act that included language prohibiting any A-10 retirements. In its version of that Pentagon policy bill, the Senate Armed Services Committee also proposed blocking A-10 retirements.
The House last week approved an amendment from Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., that would prohibit the Defense Department from using money to divest, retire, transfer or place in storage any A-10 aircraft, and block the department from preparing to cut any of the aircraft.
Some budget analysts have criticized lawmakers for blocking just about every cost-cutting measure the Pentagon has proposed, saying the moves will cause budgetary chaos in coming years. ■
Aaron Mehta contributed to this report.