United States Air Force officials have said that President Barack Obama's proposed cuts in defense spending would slash by half the C-5 cargo jet fleet at the Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts. But Congress may yet put up a fight.
"I can almost tell you with great certainty that what was recommended will not be the final product."
Springfield Congressman Richard Neal says it's too early to say exactly what will or won't happen at Westover or at the Barnes Air Guard station in Westfield. He notes that the proposal would not begin cuts until the year 2016 – at least. And he argues that the 4800 civilian and military jobs at westover are vital to the regional economy.
"As recently as this past Saturday it demonstrated once again its viability as many of our young men and women were movoing off to Afghanistan, some of them for another tour of duty. Strategically, Westover is very well located, as is Barnes, and they both play a very important mission in the day-to-day defense of the United States."
During an appearance in Springfield today [MONDAY] Neal also criticized other aspects of the president's budget he opposes – including continued reductions in a low-income heating assistance program. Overall, he called the budget proposal "a good starting point" for discussions.