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Policy Update: Arkansas’s Role in Defending our Nation

There is no question that Arkansans understand the importance of a well-trained, well-equipped military. But did you know how much federal defense investments affect our state? 

Many Arkansans would be surprised to know that the number one export from our state is aerospace. This includes the missiles and rockets manufactured by almost 3,100 employees in Camden, Arkansas. In the Third District, did you know that employees in Springdale are using plasma welding to refurbish jet engines for the Air Force? Or that highly-skilled workers in Russellville are using sophisticated metal techniques to create portable landing pads for military helicopters?

Arkansas has an abundance of Air Force and National Guard activity as well. If you ask any C-130 pilot across the nation where they learned to fly, chances are they got their training on the Little Rock Air Force Base. Fort Chaffee is home to a premier and expansive training center that hosts units from across the nation. Soon, Arkansas Guardsmen will be operating unmanned planes across the globe – all from a highly advanced control unit in Fort Smith, Arkansas. In fact, the National Guard has approximately 10,000 soldiers across the state of Arkansas and puts over $500 million into Arkansas’s economy every year.

With so much military investment in Arkansas, it is clear that budget uncertainty for the Pentagon means uncertainty for Arkansas jobs. I am working hard as a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense to make sure our troops have the training and equipment that they need by passing thoughtful defense spending bills. On June 20, 2014, the House passed H.R. 4870, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act of 2015, which now awaits Senate consideration. I am proud of this bill because it not only funds the protection of our nation in an unstable world, but it also funds vital defense programs in Arkansas.  I urge the Senate to take up and pass this essential bill straight away.