As Congress considers legislation to block the closure of the 911th Airlift Wing in Moon Township, U.S. Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA-18) will hold a community meeting this evening to update local residents on the status of the base.
Other area officials including State Representative Mark Mustio (R-Allegheny) and County Council members Heather Heidelbaugh, Michael Finnerty and Vince Gastgeb will be on hand to discuss the next steps needed to keep the critical military installation.
Earlier this year, Murphy introduced legislation that prevents moving any planes from the 911th until March 2013 because the Pentagon failed to conduct a cost-analysis of the base. His legislation was then incorporated into a government-funding measure.
Murphy said his measure was a major first step in attempts to keep the base open. “That was important because we wanted to use that time to get the Air Force to report to Congress and more carefully look over the economics of that base,” Murphy said.
Next week, the Senate will take up draft legislation that will further prohibit closing the base until September 2013, which will be the end of the 2013 fiscal year. Murphy said Pennsylvania's U.S. Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey are both on board in getting that legislation passed.
“They are committed to making sure that includes the wording calling for this commission on the structure of the Air Force. They will also be calling up on the Air Force, as we have as a legislative team, bi-cameral, bi-partisan, to get the facts from the Air Force,” Murphy said.
Murphy added when the base realignment closure proposal was first brought to light in the 1990s, Pittsburgh was slated for closure then as well.
“We have fought successfully for this, and we still feel confident that if the facts are reviewed by the Air Force, and not just relying on some old data, that we will win,” Murphy said. “I know when we have, in the past, pointed out to members of the Air Force that there was room for even more planes, each time that is a surprise to them. So, we know information is not flowing upward in this and we’re going to continue to push that, so we hope people will continue to show their support as well,” he said.
The meeting will be held tonight in the Moon Township Municipal Building at 7 o'clock.