Defense Bill passed, Iowa Air National Guard's F-16s cut

Lawmakers in Washington have approved a new defense spending bill which will eliminate all of the F-16 Fighter Jets.

Those jets include the group based in Des Moines, flown by the Iowa Air National Guard.

Iowa Congressman Dave Loebsack spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives this past week about the proposed elimination.

"The men and women of the 132nd have fought for our nation time and again and are one of the most experienced and cost-effective units in the country. When the Pentagon initially announced their short-sighted plan to retire the F-16s, I spearheaded the bipartisan effort to stop it because they could not demonstrate why it was a good deal for taxpayers or our national security. They still have not provided that justification. I strongly opposed this decision and therefore could not support the bill,â?? Loebsack said.

"I am also strongly opposed to a provision that would affect the Pentagon's civilian workforce , possibly including positions such as those at Rock Island Arsenal. The men and women at Rock Island Arsenal work every day in support of our troops and make essential and cost-effective contributions to our national security. While savings and efficiencies can be found in the defense budget, arbitrary reductions without strategy or analysis, like what this proposal calls for, undermines national security efforts like those at Rock Island Arsenal and hurts good jobs and the local economy in the Quad Cities,â?? Loebsack added.

"While I cannot support the underlying bill because of these misguided proposals, I am proud to have worked to include many provisions that will support our military families , National Guard and Reserve, and the Rock Island Arsenal,â?? Loebsack added.

Below is a list of initiatives that the bill includes. The information was provided by Congressman Dave Loebsackâ??s Office.

Stops BRAC

Congressman Loebsack fought against the approval of new BRAC rounds since the proposal was first announced. The final bill prevents DOD from carrying out new BRAC rounds.

Rock Island Arsenal Workload

Congressmen Loebsack worked to include language that directs DOD to identify the critical manufacturing capabilities provided by arsenals and determine the amount of work that is required to maintain them in peacetime which will be incorporated into a national security strategy for our industrial base. It also requires the creation of a strategic workload plan to maintain arsenals' critical capabilities.

Housing Benefits Fix for National Guard

Also included in the NDAA, was Loebsack's legislation that prohibits reductions in the rate of Basic Allowance for Housing for members of the National Guard who transition from full time National Guard duty to active duty or from active duty to full time National Guard duty. Under current policy, some National Guardsmen who make this transition see their benefits reduced at a time when they and their families can least afford it because of a policy that changes how their benefits are calculated. This issue was raised with Loebsack by the Iowa National Guard Officers and Enlisted Associations and he acted to fix it.

National Guard Counterdrug Schools

The legislation reauthorizes the National Guard Counterdrug Schools like the Iowa Guard runs at Camp Dodge (the Midwest Counterdrug Training Center). The Center provides critical training to local law enforcement from across Iowa and the country to help keep drugs off of our streets.

Travel Benefits for National Guard and Reserve Retirees

The legislation includes a provision similar to bipartisan legislation Loebsack co-introduced to allow expansion of full Space Available travel benefits on military aircraft to "gray area" retirees (National Guard members or Reservists who are eligible for retirement but under the age of 60) and surviving spouses. This issue was also raised with Loebsack by the Iowa National Guard Officers and Enlisted Associations, and Loebsack has worked on a bipartisan basis to provide these benefits.

Pay Raise for troops

As a member of the Military Personnel Subcommittee, Loebsack worked to provide a 1.7 percent pay increase in pay for our troops.