OPIOID SERIES:

GOP senators reject putting A-10 in storage

 

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 Sidney McCainHeitkamp becomes first Dem to back Pompeo for secretary of State Senate committee sets Monday vote even as Pompeo appears to lack support Trump checkmates Democrats in sending Pompeo to North Korea MORE (R-Ariz.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamDems walk tightrope on Pompeo nomination Senate panel moving ahead with Mueller bill despite McConnell opposition Overnight Defense: Lawmakers worry over Syria strategy | Trump's base critical of strikes | Flake undecided on Pompeo | Coast Guard plans to keep allowing transgender members | GOP chair wants to cut B from Pentagon agencies MORE (R-S.C.), Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteAudit finds US Defense Department wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars US sends A-10 squadron to Afghanistan for first time in three years No, the US did not spend million on a gas station in Afghanistan MORE (R-N.H.) and Saxby ChamblissClarence (Saxby) Saxby ChamblissLobbying World Former GOP senator: Let Dems engage on healthcare bill OPINION: Left-wing politics will be the demise of the Democratic Party MORE (R-Ga.) said in a statement.

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The plan to place the 283-plane fleet in semi-retirement was proposed on Monday by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) in his mark of the fiscal year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act.

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 Milton LevinSen. Gillibrand, eyeing 2020 bid, rankles some Democrats The Hill's 12:30 Report Congress needs bipartisanship to fully investigate Russian influence 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.