President Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget does include a proposal to shut down the 132nd Fighter Wing of the Iowa Air National Guard. Under the budget, released Monday, the Des Moines-based unit’s fighter jets would be replaced with unmanned drones and the staff of 1,000 would be cut to perhaps 500.
Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says just because the president puts it in his budget, doesn’t mean it will happen. “First of all,” Grassley says, “you’ve got to remember, on the entire budget, a president proposes, Congress disposes.”
Grassley, a Republican, says the decommissioning of the National Guard unit and the elimination of its 21 F-16 fighter jets and hundreds of personnel remains a suggestion by President Obama. Grassley says, “He’s probably adopting the priorities of the defense department, which he probably should do because he has suggested that to them, and it obviously has presidential backing but Congress is going to make the final decision.”
Last week, Grassley hosted a meeting in Washington, D.C. to discuss the proposal. It included the other six members of Iowa’s congressional delegation, the Secretary of the Air Force, and several other military officials. Grassley says, “The meeting was discouraging in that the Air Force seemed to have its mind made up, but it will be up to Congress to decide whether to approve of the Air Force plans.”
Grassley sits on the Senate Finance Committee which is holding a hearing this morning on the president’s new budget. U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is among those scheduled to testify.