/ Modified dec 15, 2014 8:39 a.m.

Federal Budget Plan Helps Southern Arizona

Temporary spending package brings good news but also uncertainty for region



The defense budget passed by Congress as part of the federal spending package over the weekend provides funding for a number of operations based in Southern Arizona.

Included is funding for more Tomahawk cruise missiles, which are built at Tucson's Raytheon Missile Systems, the largest employer in the region.

The spending plan also includes money to keep most A-10 Air Force airplanes flying, including more than 80 at Tucson's Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. The Air Force and its supporters point to Davis-Monthan as a significant economic driver in the region, with an estimated $1 billion impact and 1,500 civilian jobs.

Members of Arizona's congressional delegation fought for the funding at D-M and Raytheon, as did members of Congress for military spending in their districts across the country.

One congressman said during the debate that it's the kind of political wrangling that must end. U.S. Rep. Adam Smith of Washington state, ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said the parochial nature of budgeting has to stop.

“We are going to have to make some difficult choices that we don’t want to make if we are going to properly protect our military because again what happens when we don’t make those choices money does not magically appear to pay for these things,” Smith said.

Complicating budget issues is sequestration, the automatic budget cuts that went into effect in 2013, including significant cuts in military spending.

Arizona U.S. Sen. John McCain, a Republican, will head the Senate Armed Services Committee next year. He said sequestration cuts affecting the military need to end.

“We need to repeal sequestration," McCain told Fox News. "We need to have a policy that drives the budget rather than a budget that drives the policy”

The budget fight will begin again in January. The current spending plan runs out at the end of September of next year.

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