Thursday, October 27, 2005

Ford Votes To Keep 118th Open; Blasts Senate for Cutting Programs That Lower Electricity Bills For West Tennesseans

Congressman Harold Ford, Jr. voted today in support of a resolution that would have blocked the closing of military bases under the Base Closure and Realignment Commission's recommendations. This vote came a day after the United States Senate voted to cut funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which provides financial assistance to seniors, veterans and hard-working families to pay their winter heating and electrical bills.

In a statement, Ford said:

"Now is not the time to close bases. With almost 140,000 American troops serving in Iraq and 17,000 American troops serving in Afghanistan, our military is already overstretched.

"Closing bases would only exacerbate the problem, especially since many of the units that President Bush recommends closing - such as the 118th Air Lift Wing based in Nashville - are critical to our nation's security. As the brave men and women of the 278th Regimental Combat Team return home from Iraq, Congress should not greet them by closing bases in their state.

"Today's vote would have rejected President Bush's decision to take away the planes from the 118th Air Wing in Nashville, one of the nation's most decorated Air National Guard units. It is the wrong decision at the wrong time.

"I sincerely hope that our Senate leadership will see fit to reject President Bush's decision on this front.

"I am equally opposed to yesterday's Senate decision to cut energy assistance funding for seniors, veterans and the more than 60 percent of Tennessee households that earn less than $50,000 a year. In short, the Senate made it harder for families from Lake to Dyer to Lauderdale to Tipton to Shelby County to pay their heating and electricity bills this winter.

"President Bush and the leadership in the House and Senate want to make tax cuts permanent for millionaires but refuse to help seniors, veterans and hardworking families earning less than $50,000 a year pay their light, gas and water bills this winter. We should all take a pledge not to pay for millionaire tax cuts by cutting programs to help middle-class families, which are the majority of families in our state.

"If I were blessed to represent Tennessee in the Senate, I would have voted to help seniors, veterans and hardworking families pay their light, gas and water bills this winter. And I would have done so without cutting other much-needed social programs."