House Passes Bill to Save Newport Air Station
Today, the United States House of Representatives passed S. 140, the Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018, which includes language from Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR) that should keep the Newport air facility open permanently. S.140 also authorizes funding for the Coast Guard, one of the nation’s five armed services, through fiscal year 2019 and supports the service’s plans to recapitalize and modernize its assets to carry out its critical missions.
“It is impossible to overstate how critical having search and rescue helicopters nearby is to Oregon’s fishing industry, coastal visitors and residents. The Newport air station handles half the emergency calls on the Central Oregon Coast and without it, people in imminent danger will have to wait for a helicopter from North Bend or Astoria to rescue them. It is imperative that the Newport air facility stay open, and I will continue to do everything I can here in Washington DC to ensure that the Newport AIRFAC continues to provide lifesaving services for future generations,” said DeFazio, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and lead Democratic sponsor and negotiator in the House of Representatives on the Coast Guard Authorization Act.
“With today’s passage of the Coast Guard reauthorization, we have been able to ensure that the air facility in Newport will continue to serve its critical mission protecting our fishing industry and visitors on the central Oregon Coast. Protecting this asset is paramount and has been a top priority of those of us in the Oregon delegation. I have been proud to partner with our coastal community back home and thank them for their tireless efforts to help make this happen,” said Rep. Kurt Schrader (OR-05).
Due to budget cuts, the Coast Guard threatened in 2014 to close the Newport air facility, which handles half of the emergency response calls on the Central Oregon Coast. S. 140 includes a provision to guarantee that the Newport air facility will stay open and serve Oregon’s coastal communities into the future.
DeFazio was a key negotiator and co-sponsor of the bipartisan legislation, which includes several bipartisan bills previously approved by the House or the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure earlier this Congress.
Newport is home to one of Oregon’s three deep draft ports, the state’s largest grossing commercial fishing fleet, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Operations Center, Oregon State University research personnel and vessels, and a robust recreational and sport fishing industry that is critical to the local economy.