Idaho's Simpson vows to keep fighting for A-10 funding

jsowell@idahostatesman.comJune 11, 2014 

U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson was on the losing end Tuesday of a 23-10 vote of the House Appropriations Committee against an amendment that would have preserved funding for another year for the A-10 Thunderbolt gunship.

The A-10, the workhorse of the Idaho Air National Guard at Gowen Field, is slated for retirement as part of a cost savings measure for the Air Force. Elimination of 283 A-10s nationwide would save an estimated $4.2 billion over five years.

Lawmakers on the House and Senate Armed Services committees voted to restore funding for the plane commonly called the Warthog. Simpson, an Idaho Falls Republican, said he will continue to push to maintain funding.

“I do think it’s a mistake for the Air Force to retire this aircraft without an appropriate replacement,” Simpson said in testimony before the committee. “Everyone I’ve talked to says that the F-16 can’t actually do the air support for troops on the ground that the A-10 does.”

The defense appropriations bill now heads to the full House. But Tuesday's vote is far from the final word on the plane, as the panel's actions put it at odds with the House Armed Services Committee and the Senate, according to the Associated Press.

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