By Martin Matishak - 05/06/14 02:29 PM EDT
A group of Senate Republicans on Tuesday rejected a proposal in the House that would place the A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft fleet into storage.
“Putting the A-10s in Type-1000 storage is not a compromise; it is a codification of the Air Force’s short-sighted and dangerous proposal to divest their most combat-effective and cost-efficient close air support aircraft,” Sens. John McCainJohn McCainMarines reignite debate on women in combat Gun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA Report: Prominent neoconservative to fundraise for Clinton MORE (R-Ariz.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamGun-control supporters plan next steps versus NRA Bipartisan gun measure survives test vote Senate Republicans may defy NRA on guns MORE (R-S.C.), Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteMcConnell quashes Senate effort on guns Republicans blast latest Gitmo transfer Bipartisan gun measure survives test vote MORE (R-N.H.) and Saxby ChamblissSaxby ChamblissWyden hammers CIA chief over Senate spying Cruz is a liability Inside Paul Ryan’s brain trust MORE (R-Ga.) said in a statement.
The fate of the aircraft has become one of the most contentious debates in the work on this year’s defense authorization bill, which will set Pentagon spending for fiscal 2015.
McKeon proposed storage, rather than retirement of the A-10, to buy time for lawmakers to try and reverse the spending cuts under sequestration and save the plane.
Graham called that a “terrible decision.”
“I really respect Buck and I think he’s trying to illustrate this is a choice driven buy budget, but there is no substitute for the A-10 any time soon,” he told reporters on Tuesday. “I will fight that vehemently because the ground troops really need the A-10.”
Graham noted that airplane’s previously planned replacement, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, “under the best of circumstances doesn’t come online until 2021 and I doubt if it will make it by then.”
McCain laughed at the idea of storing the A-10.
“With all due respect, I strongly disagree,” he told The Hill. “There is no adequate replacement for the A-10.”
McCain said he would attempt to block any move to retire or store the Warthog when the Senate Armed Services Committee marks up its version of the defense authorization bill later this month.
“Absolutely,” McCain said. “We will have amendments.”
Sen. Carl LevinCarl LevinFight for taxpayers draws fire Gun debate shows value of the filibuster House won't vote on Navy ship-naming restrictions MORE (D-Mich.), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services panel, said he had not seen McKeon’s proposal.
“I’m happy to consider anything,” he told reporters.