For months now, Alaska’s congressional delegation has been working to stop the Air Force from moving a squadron of F-16 fighter jets from Fairbanks to Anchorage.
Now Alaska lawmakers have added a delay tactic to their efforts.
This week a Senate committee approved an amendment to a defense budget bill that calls for a one-year moratorium on any changes to the force structure at Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks.
The amendment was proposed by Sen. Mark Begich. Since February Begich, along with the rest of Alaska's delegation -- Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Rep. Don Young -- have teamed up with leaders in the Fairbanks North Star Borough to fight an Air Force plan that will shift some 18 fighter jets and about 500 military and civilian workers to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage.
The move would dramatically reduce the number of people based at Eielson, and Fairbanks political and business leaders say that will severely damage the Interior’s economy.
The Air Force is trying to reduce spending by almost $9 billion in the upcoming fiscal year. It says moving jets and staff to JBER will create efficiencies that will save about $9 million.
The Alaska delegation disputes that number, however. Begich and others claim the move won’t save the Air Force any money, because new hangars and housing will have to be built at JBER to support the transfer of people and jets.
According to Begich his amendment will give the Air Force another year to prove the move will save money.
The measure still has to be approved by the full Senate and the House of Representatives.
Next week the Air Force is expected to release a report that supports its decision to move the squadron.
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