(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) announced that she has helped to include language in a critical defense bill that protects funding for all four helicopters in the 36th Rescue Flight at Fairchild Air Force Base. The language was included in the Fiscal Year 2008 Defense Appropriations bill which was passed by the full Senate Appropriations Committee today. Murray is a member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.
"This is good news for Fairchild Air Force Base, Spokane and the entire Northwest," said Senator Murray. "This will help the 36th Rescue Flight continue its critical work supporting the survival school and performing life-saving civilian search and rescue operations throughout our region."
The exact language included in the bill is as follows:
"The Committee encourages the Air Force to provide the funding required to continue the unit known as the 36th Rescue Flight assigned to Fairchild Air Force Base during Fiscal Year 2008."
The 36th Rescue Flight has been based at Fairchild AFB since 1973. This year, however, the President's budget for FY 2008 eliminated funding for the 36th Rescue Flight at Fairchild. Since that time Murray has worked to restore the funding.
On March 14th 2007, Senator Murray and 11 delegation members from Washington and Oregon wrote to the House and Senate chairmen of the Armed Services Committees asking them to restore funding for the 36th.
One week later, Senator Murray pressed Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and Air Force Chief of Staff General Michael Moseley on the need to fund the 36th at a meeting of the Senate Defense Appropriations subcommittee. When Murray asked Secretary Wynne to explain the reason for eliminating the funding, Wynne admitted that the Air Force had not paid enough attention to how the helicopters contribute to the broader community.
The Defense Appropriations bill will now be sent to the full Senate for a vote.