By Kristina Wong - 05/08/14 12:35 AM EDT
The House Armed Services panel rejected the Army's plan to transfer the National Guard's Apache attack helicopters to the active side on Wednesday evening as it put together its defense bill for the next fiscal year.
The amendment, proposed by Rep. Joe WilsonJoe WilsonOvernight Cybersecurity: Fight over feds' hacking powers moves to Congress New House caucus will help keep hackers out of cars Defense authorization bill would elevate Cyber Command MORE (R-S.C.), passed by a voice vote, and was supported by both Republicans and Democrats.
"This is a critical amendment that is necessary," said Rep. Bill Enyart (D-Ill.). "We need to keep the Apaches in the Guard."
Army officials said the move to transfer the helicopters to the active side in exchange for the active Army's unarmed Black Hawk helicopters, made sense, since the Guard's domestic missions did not require the attack aircraft.
But supporters of the amendment argued that the Guard needed to maintain its combat capability by continuing to train on the aircraft.
"Pilots and maintainers would have no place to use their skills," Enyart argued. "We as a nation would lose those critical and expensive skills."
Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Hii.), a former Illinois Army National Guard pilot, who supported the amendment, gave Enyart a "fist bump" of approval after the amendment passed.
"Now is not the time to equivocate on our strong support for the National Guard," said Rep. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.)