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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 24, 2004

Lawmakers: Pentagon Official Agrees To Work To Include $17.8 Million For Niagara Air Reserve Station In 2006 Budget Request

Schumer, Clinton, Reynolds &, Slaughter met today with Defense Department Comptroller who agreed to work to include funds for the station's visiting quarters in Pentagon's 2006 budget request

Visiting Quarters were previously slated to be in 2007 budget; Moving it up a year gets the money to Niagara more quickly and pushes the project closer to the finish line

US Senators Charles E. Schumer and Hillary Rodham Clinton and US Representatives Louise Slaughter and Tom Reynolds announced today that a key Defense Department official has committed to work toward including $17.8 million in funding for visiting quarters for the Niagara Air Reserve Station in the Pentagon's military construction request for Fiscal Year 2006 budget. The delegation pushed to accelerate the funding for the project, previously slated for the 2007 budget, to get the money to Western New York more quickly and move the project closer to completion.

"Getting the funds for the air reserve station moved up a year means getting money to Niagara more quickly and pushing this project closer to the finish line," Schumer said. "We made the case to the Pentagon today as a united delegation and they said they'll work to grant our request. The bottom line is we need to do everything we can to help the men and women of the 914th Airlift Wing and the 107th Air Reserve, and we got a step closer to making that happen today."

“The Comptroller’s commitment to providing Niagara’s Visiting Airmen’s Quarters with these critical resources is an important step in the right direction for both our men and women in uniform as well as Niagara County. Indeed, the 914th Airlift wing out of Niagara Falls flew me from Baghdad to Kuwait so I know firsthand how valuable these men and women are,” Senator Clinton said. “I organized this meeting because I believe deeply that the Department of Defense has a responsibility to include the Visiting Airmen’s Quarters in the Fiscal Year 2006 budget particularly now when we are demanding so very much from the Niagara reservists and Guard Members.”

"The Department of Defense's commitment to expediting the Visiting Airmen's Quarters is great news for the airbase and Niagara County," said U.S. Representative Thomas M. Reynolds, R-Clarence. "The Niagara Air Reserve Station is the second largest employer in the county, which makes this project important to the local economy and area jobs. And with the numerous deployments of the 914th Airlift Wing and the 107th Air Reserve, it further shows a needed commitment to the men and women serving in these units."

"Today's meeting was a positive step forward for the Niagara Air Reserve Station," said Rep. Louise Slaughter. "The Comptroller made a strong commitment to increasing funding for the base, which plays a critically important role in the Buffalo-Niagara region. Improving the Visitors Quarters will better the quality of life for our reservists, many of whom travel from all over Western New York to complete their service. The Reserves and National Guard from Niagara Falls have served our nation valiantly in Iraq and around the world. Their needs must be prioritized in the funding process. I look forward to working with my colleagues to continue to strengthen and improve the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Base."

Schumer, Clinton, Reynolds and Slaughter met today with Defense Department Comptroller Dov S. Zakeim and urged him to include the funding for the visiting quarters in the 2006 budget. Construction of a Visiting Quarters (VQ) for airmen at the Niagara Air Reserve Station (NARS) is needed to replace deteriorating billeting at NARS which currently does not meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards, New York Safety Codes, or U.S. Air Force Quality of Life Standards. Delays in construction, or a failure to replace the current Visiting Airmen’s Quarters at NARS would increase the government’s investment in maintenance of the facility and costs to the base associated with energy and high maintenance costs for the current facilities.

Zakheim told the delegation that he would push to include the funding for the visitors quarters in his Fiscal Year 2006 budget request. The process for determining the budget proposal is currently underway and should be completed by summer, paving the way for the President's budget request to be submitted to Congress . The delegation said that it is particularly important that funding be accelerated because enlisted personnel are currently staying in a substandard lodging facility. In addition, $1.3 million has already been invested in the design of the new quarters.

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