If a bill came along in Congress that included cuts to the Rock Island Arsenal, U.S. Rep. Buck McKeon, a Republican from California who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, said Saturday he would not support it.
“This is a national treasure and we better not lose it,” McKeon said of the Arsenal while on a visit to the Hero Street Memorial in Silvis. The memorial honors eight soldiers from one tiny stretch of homes on 2nd Street in the community who died in military service.
McKeon toured Arsenal Island Saturday morning with Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Ill., whose congressional district includes the Arsenal.
The event came days after Quad-City area lawmakers warned that looming defense cuts could hurt the military at a forum Schilling sponsored at Western Illinois University.
Last summer, Congress set in motion $1.2 trillion in cuts over 10 years, called a “sequester,” in a deal to raise the debt ceiling, and half the reductions are to come from defense spending.
Both Schilling and McKeon voted for the deal, though it’s not clear how the cuts would impact the Arsenal.
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McKeon said Saturday if more domestic base closures and other cuts come along, he would wish the Rock Island Arsenal be spared.
“This is one we want to make sure is protected,” he said.
“Things are done here I have not seen elsewhere,” McKeon added, like reclamation of scrap metal for reuse, something he learned on his tour with Schilling.
“This is about our national defense,” Schilling said. “We’re taking 50 percent of the cuts out of defense. How about other folks put some skin in the game?”
McKeon said that with problems in Iran, North Korea and the “Arab Spring,” the defense is needed as much now as before.