Keeping the Joint Base viable and getting every superstorm-impacted family home highlight Ask The Congressman
Protecting Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, vulnerable to another possible round of Base Realignment and Closures proposed in President Obama's budget for next year, remains a high priority for Shore Representative Tom MacArthur (R-3), who discussed the issue at length this week on "Ask the Congressman," on News Talk 1160 & 1310 WOBM-AM with host Tom Mongellli.
"I think it's disappointing that this President at every opportunity seems to want to gut our military. This is not the time to be doing that. This is a world that is spinning out of control and America is holding, not only our interests together, but regions of the world together, and we can't just abandon that," said MacArthur.
MacArthur noted that his amendment led to a no BRACC (Base Realignment and Closure Commission) provision in last year's Defense Bill, and pointed out that it included a requirement of the President to provide a report of excess infrastructure.
"He hasn't done that, and the study that is being relied on, to say that we have too many bases, is now 11 years old. Think about how the world has changes in the last 11 years," MacArthur said.
Obama wants to cut base defense spending by $23 billion, according to MacArthur.
"He cuts Homeland Security in the budget, which I think is irresponsible, and for the fourth year, he's giving our troops a pay raise that is less than the civilian sector. 1.6 percent is what he proposes," said MacArthur.
MacArthur said the proposed spending reduction and the possibility of BRACC are a matter of National Security to him.
"Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst is exceptionally well positioned to help our Eastern Defenses in this part of the country."
MacArthur was able to get a two-year ban on retiring the KC-10 air-to-air refueling tankers, which he described as the "lynch pin" of the 80 missions at the Joint Base.
"The President did put in his budget that he wants to retire them, but he can't. It's against the law. He'd have to get Congress to overturn last year's Defense Bill to do anything about that this year or next year," Mac Arthur said.
The next round of casings for the KC-46 is going on this year, according to MacArthur, and he thinks a decision will come from the Defense Department around this time next year.
"We've gotten the list down to about 10 of us, and I intend to get it down to one of us and have it be this base," said MacArthur. He added The Joint Base is well positioned for the KC-46 and willing to accept them.
A caller, Russ from Toms River, commended MacArthur for helping his family and other Superstorm Sandy victims.
"I'm not done on Sandy," MacArthur responded. "There are reforms that need to be made to the National Flood program and to the Disaster Assistance Bill, it's called the Stafford Act."