Durbin opens door to saving A-10 fleet

Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDemocrats ask EPA, Interior to pause rulemaking amid coronavirus Senator Tom Coburn's government oversight legacy Democratic lawmakers demand government stop deporting unaccompanied children MORE (D-Ill.) on Wednesday suggested that lawmakers could move to save the Air Force’s venerable A-10 “Warthog” attack plane when the upper chamber takes up its 2015 defense spending bill next month.

On Tuesday, the House Appropriations Committee became the first panel to vote for scrapping the 283-plane fleet, as the Pentagon wants.

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But Durbin, who has been quiet over the plane's fate before, indicated that the fight is far from over.

“The sentiment in the Senate is much different,” Durbin, the chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee said.

He declined to elaborate further.

Durbin, the Senate's No. 2 Democrat, said the subpanel will try to mark up its version of the 2015 defense spending bill in early July.

The Pentagon’s proposal to retire the A-10 to save money has sparked a fierce fight on Capitol Hill. The A-10 fleet is popular with ground troops, and many lawmakers see it as an essential part of the military fleet.

Supporters won early victories after the full House and the Senate Armed Services Committee previously voted to save the Warthog in 2015 defense policy bills.

The House Appropriations panel, though, voted to scrap the plane on Tuesday, agreeing with the Pentagon that close air support could be provided by other aircraft, such as the F-16 fighter and the B-1 bomber.