Apr 26 2013
By Rep. Kristi Noem
Every day, I feel blessed to serve the people of South Dakota in the U.S. House of Representatives. In the time I have been in office, I have had the honor of meeting hundreds of members of our nation’s armed forces. South Dakota is home to a strong and reliable National Guard, as well as one of our nation’s finest military bases – Ellsworth Air Force Base.
I believe we have a responsibility and a duty to ensure that our men and women are fully prepared and equipped for their military missions, which is why I’m concerned with the Obama administration’s recent decision to ground the B-1 bombers at Ellsworth until October 1st.
The B-1 has been the workhorse of operations in Afghanistan for the past decade. These bombers, and pilots who fly them, are versatile and provide the range necessary for our military’s missions. In fact, during 2011, B-1s from Ellsworth were flying half way around the world in less than two days to carry out missions in Libya. The thought of reducing the flying hours and not providing our pilots the cockpit time they need concerns me – and I’m afraid we could lose that level of readiness that enabled Ellsworth to deploy and strike in such a short amount of time.
Earlier this week, I was able to question the Air Force directly about this decision. While I understand the situation they are facing because of recent “sequestration” budget cuts, I am concerned that we are depriving our airmen of the training they need in order to respond quickly. It’s important, even in light of budget cuts, that we maintain a level of readiness that our military missions require.
Once again, the Administration has chosen to put politics before people. Canceling White House tours for the American public is one thing, but potentially jeopardizing our military’s readiness is a whole new ball game.
We’ve taken action in the House. I have voted for and supported multiple efforts to replace the sequester with targeted and responsible spending reductions – without raising taxes. Defense spending is only 20 percent of our nation’s spending, yet 50 percent of the spending cuts in the sequester went towards defense. This just doesn’t add up.
For example, I support policies that encourage Washington to lead by example. It was recently announced that the House of Representatives is on track to save taxpayers nearly $400 million because of cuts we have implemented to trim House operating budgets. In my office, we’ve cut our budget by nearly 20 percent since 2011.
Difficult decisions needed to be made because of these smaller budgets, but the House of Representatives is still operating and serving people, while saving taxpayers nearly half a billion dollars.
The men and women of our nation’s armed forces deserve better – and so does South Dakota. I remain committed to supporting policies that put our nation back on the right track. I hope that you’ll reach out to my office to let me know your thoughts. Contact information for my offices is listed below:
Sioux Falls: 605-275-2868 / Watertown: 605-878-2868 / Aberdeen: 605-262-2862 / Rapid City: 605-791-4673 / Washington, D.C.: 202-225-2801 / Toll-Free: 1-855-225-2801