Saturday, May 24, 2014

Amarillo, Texas: Defense bill funding two major local employers passes in the House

KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports 

Amarillo, TX - Billions in federal funding could go to Bell Helicopter and Pantex thanks to a new defense bill passed by the House. 

If the National Defense Authorization Act becomes law, it will allot major funding to the two companies for the Fiscal Year 2015.

Because Bell and Pantex are two of Amarillo's largest employers, Congressman Mac Thornberry is trying to ensure they get the federal funding they need. "It's very important," said Thornberry. "Obviously lots of folks work at Bell and Pantex. They are key parts of our economy. But even more importantly, they are key parts that help keep the country safe."

The bill would provide $1.845 billion for Bell to continue building the V-22 Ospry and $904 million to build Huey and Cobra helicopters. Thornberry said steady production is important to keep employees on Bell's payroll. "The key is to have production at a rate that is the most efficient so that employment is relatively stable and so that the taxpayers get the most value for their money. So keeping with the commitment to have the V-22s at Bell is very good and important."

For Pantex, the bill would increase funding for nuclear weapons activities. Thornberry said the bill also includes $39 million to help with a backlog of deferred maintenance projects in nuclear weapons facilities. "A few months ago I took a tour again out at Pantex and saw first hand some of the facilities that maybe a lot of people don't see, but are really in need of repairs."

The defense bill's next stop is the Senate floor.

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