Press Releases

Upton and Peters Applaud Senate Passage of RPA Operation Legislation

Bipartisan bill would update law to keep National Guard units on airfields

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Washington, September 29, 2016 | Lynn Turner/Tom Wilbur (202 225 3761/269-385-0039) | comments

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, and U.S. Senator Gary Peters, D-Michigan, today applauded Senate passage of H.R. 5944. This bipartisan legislation would update and modernize the leasing programs necessary to keep National Guard units and Air Force Remote Pilot Aircraft (RPA) operations on airfields where they currently operate. The legislation now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

“W.K. Kellogg Airport in Battle Creek has enjoyed a close relationship with the Michigan National Guard, and our bipartisan legislation enables that productive partnership to continue,” said Upton. “Following the example set here in Southwest Michigan, which just received a state-of-the-art RPA flying mission, airfields around the nation now have the certainty to work in collaboration with the Air Force and the National Guard without jeopardizing their eligibility for vital federal support or risking weakening our nation’s defense. I want to thank Senator Peters for his partnership and applaud the Senate for their swift, bipartisan action in support of our important legislation.”

“The men and women of the 110th Attack Wing are a proud part of Michigan’s strong military tradition, and they are at the forefront of groundbreaking missions to protect Americans and our allies at home and abroad,” said Senator Peters. “Remotely-piloted aircraft missions are part of the future of our military, and we must ensure these missions are not jeopardized by federal regulations that have not kept pace with cutting-edge technology. I thank Congressman Upton for his leadership on this important issues. I’m pleased we were able to work together to pass this critical legislation and ensure Kellogg Airport can remain eligible for federal grants and support our national defense capabilities in Battle Creek.”

“Congressman Upton and Senator Peters continue to go above and beyond by recognizing Battle Creek’s defense community and its important role in creating and retaining jobs and investment,” said Joe Sobieralski, interim president and chief executive office of Battle Creek Unlimited, the area’s economic development organization.

“NGAUS greatly appreciates the efforts of Senator Peters and Congressman Upton in getting this vitally important bill passed in the House and the Senate. The passage of this legislation comes as a huge relief to impacted RPA units in the Air National Guard,” said retired Maj. Gen. Gus Hargett, president of the National Guard Association of the United States. “We believe that this bill represents a fair compromise for both the Air National Guard and their airport sponsors, and will hopefully resolve many of the longstanding issues and uncertainty for the RPA units and the airports.”

H.R. 5944 was introduced in the House by Upton and U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins, D-New York, and was advanced by a unanimous vote last week. The legislation was jointly developed by Upton, Peters, the National Guard, the Air Force, and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Peters introduced similar legislation in the U.S. Senate, which was included in broader legislation to reauthorize the FAA.

For a fact sheet on the legislation, please click here.

Earlier this month, Upton and Peters attended the opening of a new RPA facility at the Battle Creek National Guard Base.

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