Special Edition: Lajes Air Base Update
Friday, December 20, 2013
Congress Approves National Defense Authorization Act for 2014 Fiscal Year
In a statement released by the office of Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), a ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and co-chair of the Friends of Portugal in the Senate, it was announced today that the U.S. Senate voted 84-15 to approve the FY2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which expects to be signed into law shortly by President Obama.
This final version of the bill retains language ensuring that the efficacy of the Lajes Air Base be assessed before any further alterations may be enacted:
"The Secretary of the Air Force may not reduce the force structure at Lajes Air Force Base... until 30 days after the Secretary of Defense concludes the European Infrastructure Consolidation Assessment initiated by the Secretary on January 25, 2013, and briefs the congressional defense committees regarding such Assessment. Such briefing shall include a specific assessment of the efficacy of Lajes Air Force Base, Azores, in supporting the United States overseas force posture."
The amendment to the House Bill was first included at the request of the Portuguese American Caucus of the House of Representatives in a letter signed by Congressmen Devin Nunes (R-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Bill Keating (D-MA), David G. Valadão (R-CA), David Ciccilline (D-RI), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Jeff Deham (R-CA) and Doug LaMalfa (R-CA).
Moving onto the Senate, the amendment was stalled in the Senate Armed Services Committee and was in danger of permanent exclusion. Maintaining a strong relationship with the Friends of Portugal in the Senate under the bipartisan leadership of the caucus led by Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and Senator Patrick Toomey (R-PA), PALCUS was able to educate and inform the caucus of the strategic significance of this legislation to Portuguese-Americans at home as well as to their families abroad.
Over the past year, PALCUS was been in active contact with the government of the Autonomous Region of the Azores to better assess the impact of the Lajes reduction on the status of the islands and Terceira in particular. In this way, we have been better prepared to communicate with the congressional caucuses of both the House of Representatives and the Senate in order to provide education and insight on the matter.
PALCUS thanks Senators Jack Reed and Patrick Toomey, co-chairs of the Friends of Portugal of the Senate as well as Congressmen Jim Costa, Devin Nunes, David Cicilline and David Valladão, co-chairs of the Portuguese American Caucus of the House of Representatives for their outstanding leadership on this issue.
PALCUS will continue to monitor this issue going forward as the circumstances unfold.
Your comments and suggestions on this topis and others are welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org
. Please do not hesitate to thank your Senators and Congressmen for their support.