McMorris Encouraged by Defense Department’s Recommendation to Keep Fairchild Open

(Washington, D.C.)  Congresswoman Cathy McMorris announced today that Fairchild Air Force Base “won round one” when the Department of Defense (DoD) recommended keeping Fairchild Air Force Base open. Fairchild was not included on the DoD’s list of bases recommended for closure. McMorris is a Member of the House Armed Services Committee which has jurisdiction over the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process.

“Protecting and expanding Fairchild has been a top priority for my office,” said McMorris. “I am extremely pleased that the DoD has recognized the strategic role that Fairchild plays in our national security efforts. Our congressional delegation, Governor Gregoire and the Forward Fairchild group have all worked tirelessly to highlight the base’s military value and joint training capabilities. This is only the first round and together, we will work to ensure that Fairchild Air Force Base remains off the closure list.”

Fairchild plays a vital role in fighting terrorism by providing air-refueling to the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps during joint operations. Fairchild houses the only active duty air-refueling wing on the West Coast; and since the attacks in September 2001, Fairchild’s tanker mission has expanded to meet an important aspect on the Global War on Terror. Over 107 million gallons of fuel have been loaded off and more than 53 million gallons of fuel have been consumed.

“The BRAC announcement secures the future of Fairchild Air Force Base in our community,” said Rich Hadley, President & CEO of the Spokane Regional Chamber of Commerce. “The same community spirit and assertiveness exhibited in Forward Fairchild to keep the base off the list will now be directed on growing its missions. We take our hats off to the men and women stationed at Fairchild who execute those missions in an exemplary manner and make the base a strategic asset in our war on terrorism,” Hadley added.

“Fairchild is key to our national security and our economic security,” continued McMorris. “With ample amount of land and air space available, and the ability to provide joint operations, I believe that Fairchild is strategically positioned to grow and expand on the already critical role it plays in our national security.”

The nine Members of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC), led by Chairman Anthony Principi, will now begin to examine and evaluate the list of bases recommended for closure. Under the BRAC rules, bases can be removed and added to the list, although in order for a base to be added, seven of the nine appointed commissioners would have to vote to add it.

On September 8th, the Commission will send its list to the President. The President will then have until September 23rd to approve or disapprove the list (if the President disapproves, list may be revised by Commission by October 20, 2005). The President must certify the Commission list and submit it to Congress for an up or down vote by November 7th. Congress will have 45 days to pass a motion of disapproval or the Commission’s list becomes law.

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