A defense spending bill passed by the U.S. House would keep the A-10 Warthog in service, including the 21 planes at Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township.
The $585 billion defense budget would prohibit the retirement of the A-10, which has been in danger of being cut. Earlier this year, the Department of Defense announced it would retire the airplane.
The bill passed the House 300-119 and now heads to the Senate.
Selfridge has 21 A-10 aircraft. The bill keeps the airplanes in service but allows the Secretary of Defense to place up to 36 A-10s “backup flying status” if more resources are needed for the newer F-35 planes.
U.S. Rep Candice Miller (R-Harrison Township) said on Wednesday she is glad that the A10s are remaining at the base, but wanted stronger protections than the “back up status.”
Miller, who has advocated for the base and A-10s, said in a statement that the bill provides “a much weaker protection than what passed the House and the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this year.”
The $585 billion defense policy bill also gives President Barack Obama authority to increase military operations against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, as well as funding for construction and a 1 percent pay raise for soldiers.
U.S. Sen Carl Levin, who chairs the Senate Committee on Armed Services, said the “The bill stays within the budget caps imposed by sequestration and makes a few reforms that will yield some modest savings to help the Department meet those caps in future years.”
Three members of the Michigan Delegation voted against the bill: U.S. Reps. Justin Amash (R-Cascade Township), John Conyers (D-Detroit) and Dan Kildee (D-Flint Township).
In a statement, Kildee said there are three reasons he voted against the final bill:
First, the bill fails to include my amendments, which were in the House-passed version, which would have improved wounded warrior care. Secondly, the bill includes billions of dollars in military spending that the generals themselves say they neither need nor want, all while cutting pay for active military service members. Finally, the bill continues to fund military operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) before Congress has had a robust debate on the authorization of military force.
Justin Amash explained his vote in a tweet:
“Voted no on #NDAA, which funds Syrian rebels, grabs land from states, and allows indefinite detention of Americans without charge or trial.”
For Michigan, the bill will also include:
- $183 million for the Army’s leading research and development center for vehicle technologies, located in Warren. It also funds programs for the tank command in Warren.
- The bill includes about $35 million to replace fuel distribution facilities at the Air National Guard Base in Selfridge and $6 million for a drone operations unit in Battle Creek.
- It provides billions of dollars for acquisitions, including $1.4 billion for Littoral Combat Ship construction. Several hundred Upper Peninsula residents work at one of two shipyards building the ships in Marinette, Wisconsin.
The Associated Press contributed to this report