All ten members of the Minnesota congressional delegation signed a letter calling on the Secretary of the Air Force not to downsize the size of the branch's C-130 fleet.
"These C-130 aircrafts are really the backbone of the Minnesota Air National Guard," said DFL Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith. "This is a place where Democrats and Republicans agree we want to make sure we have a strong national guard. It's so important for our individual states and our country's ability to respond."
She said they're important for training, use during emergencies and disaster response and overall national security.
"The C-130's could go all around the world delivering food, medical supplies, things of that nature," said Republican Rep. Jim Hagedorn of Minnesota's 1st Congressional District. "In this case, we've been using the aircrafts to bring supplies sometimes to the U.S. or to other countries in need. We have really terrific, fine folks who do this work and we just want to support them any way we can."
Minnesota's Air National Guard has been called on overseas, sending planes to Puerto Rico to help with Flooding and to the Middle East to fight on the front lines. It's also been called on multiple times at home along with Minnesota's Army National Guard between the unrest in the Twin Cities and the ongoing pandemic.
"We want to keep our national guard strong and we see how much they're needed domestically," said DFL Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
They're close to getting a deal done. The House of Representatives passed measures in the annual National Defense Appropriations Act to keep most of the planes in use. Smith is leading a bi-partisan group on the Senate side calling on the chamber to adopt the House agreements.
Work on the National Defense Appropriations Act is expected to be complete by the end of the year.