RIA Forum a Great First Step in a Long Process Print
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Written by Andie Pivarunas   
Monday, 06 February 2012 09:27

Moline, Illinois – Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Congressmen Bobby Schilling (IL-17), Bruce Braley (IA-01), and Dave Loebsack (IA-02) released the following statements after hosting a forum in support of preserving and strengthening the Rock Island Arsenal and the Quad Cities’ defense manufacturing capabilities:

Grassley said: “The Rock Island Arsenal has proven over decades its ability to meet its mission in a cost effective way, and any new effort to restructure operations for cost savings need to demonstrate a commitment to real savings and provide for a legitimate process to correct recommendations that don’t meet that basic test.  The last time a cost-savings effort was made with BRAC, the Arsenal in Rock Island was hurt unfairly.  A function was moved from Rock Island Arsenal to Michigan even though it cost more money, short and long term, to do it that way.  The commission staff knew the cost savings wasn’t there, misrepresented the facts in public testimony before the commission, and failed to fix the flawed recommendation.  Neither the military nor the taxpayers were served, as a result.  Every effort needs to be made to establish a fair process.”

Schilling said: “Many thanks to those from both sides of the river and both sides of the aisle for taking the time today to join us in strong support of the Rock Island Arsenal and our entire area’s remarkable defense manufacturing.  It is truly an honor to represent the hardworking men and women of the Arsenal.  Today’s discussion was a great step early in this process, and I look forward to continuing to work as a close, united group in proactively promoting our region’s significance to our national defense and security needs.”

Braley said: “Today’s turnout shows how critical an economic engine the Arsenal is for the Quad Cities and how vital the Arsenal is for our national defense.  Time and time again, the workers at the Arsenal have stepped up to produce the equipment and supplies our troops need when no one else has been able to.  In Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond, Arsenal employees have answered the call to help make America stronger and safer.  I’m committed to working with friends from across the river and across the aisle to keep the Arsenal a strong and productive part of the Quad Cities for decades to come.”

Loebsack said: “I was pleased to see all of the folks who came together today to stand united in support of the Rock Island Arsenal.  Its highly dedicated, highly talented workforce is central to defending our nation and protecting our troops.  The over 8,000 people that are employed by the Arsenal are also critical to the Quad Cities economy.  The best way that we will all be able to strengthen the Arsenal’s future during these changing times is to rally around it together and work as one group.  We all must pull together as ‘Team Rock Island’ to ensure the longevity of the Arsenal.”

Following Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s announcement last week regarding efforts by the Department of Defense in the Pentagon’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget to achieve cuts included in America’s new defense strategy, Senator Grassley and the Congressmen are working with the entire Quad Cities region to come together in support of the Rock Island Arsenal and the Quad Cities’ defense manufacturing capabilities.  The FY2013 budget is the first budget that will begin addressing the $487 billion cut to defense spending over the next decade.  This budget does not reflect potential triggered ‘sequestration’ cuts, which would add an additional $500 billion cut starting in January 2013.  

The Secretary’s announcement included mention of programs vital to the Quad Cities, including industrial base skills.  Per the DOD’s Defense Priorities and Choices, the planned budget states that it will “sustain, where possible, these segments of the industrial base.”  It takes into account the “key skills in the design and manufacture of military systems that cannot be duplicated elsewhere in the economy or regenerated quickly.

The Congressmen, and their guest Senator Grassley, are part of the bi-state, bipartisan delegation that represents the Rock Island Arsenal, and have led the charge to grow workload and jobs at the Rock Island Arsenal.  The Arsenal is a major jobs engine in the Quad Cities and – with approximately 8,600 workers living on both sides of the Mississippi River – its largest employer.  Over 35 private-sector companies have leases at the Arsenal, which also houses approximately 50 Department of Defense organizations. Further, its business supports over 14,000 additional jobs in the surrounding area.  Schilling and Loebsack both serve on the House Armed Services Committee, and successfully inserted language into the FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to permanently lift the cap on the number of public-private partnerships that arsenals are able to enter into.  Removing that cap increases the Arsenal’s ability to increase its workload, grow their local economies, and strengthen our domestic manufacturing base.   Senator Grassley and the Congressmen look forward to continuing to work with the many local leaders and their representatives who have expressed their support for the Arsenal and local defense manufacturing to promote our region’s value to America’s overarching national defense strategy.

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