Rep. Labrador explains votes against saving A-10 jets at Gowen Field

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) -- The U.S. House of Representatives this week approved a defense spending plan that would preserve the nation's aging fleet of A-10 attack jets, 22 of which are based at Boise's Gowen Field.

But U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, whose district includes Gowen Field, voted against saving the A-10s.

Locally, the fear is that if the A-10 attack jet disappears, the role of the Idaho Air Guard at Gowen Field would disappear as well.

"Gowen Field is hugely important to us," said Boise Mayor David Bieter. "There's around a $60 million payroll on the Air Guard side, and about 1,000 employees. That effect is felt not just in the city but throughout the Valley."

There are five Air Guard bases in the United States that have A-10s. But Gowen Field is the only one slated to have the A-10s removed and be assigned no additional mission.

So why would Rep. Labrador vote against preserving the A-10s, if only through fiscal year 2015 as the spending bill sets out?

In a statement, Labrador says it's not that simple.

"I would have voted for the A-10 extension as a stand alone bill," he said. But Labrador objects to other policies included in the massive $600 billion spending bill, including indefinite detention of terrorist suspects.

"I do not think it adequately protects our civil liberties..." he said.

The Senate must still consider the spending bill, and President
Obama has threatened a veto. The president estimates retiring the A-10 would save $4 billion over five years and believes close air support duty could be handled by the multipurpose F-35 fighter.

But the local concern remains that until some other duty is assigned, flying and maintaining the A-10 is the only thing keeping the Idaho Air Guard at Gowen Field.