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Monday, November 06, 2006

Pa. Governor Fights To Keep Fighter Wing Open

Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell (D) said oral arguments heard today in Rendell v. Rumsfeld reaffirms the strength ofPennsylvania's case against the U.S. Defense Department.

The Defense Department has appealed a district court's decision that U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld violated Rendell's authority by attempting to eliminate the 111th Fighter Wing at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove, Pa., without his consent.

The governor says he continues to fight to keep the 111th as an active part of Pennsylvania's homeland security team.

"The 111th is an essential part of our homeland security and disaster relief team, and I expect it to stay flying at Willow Grove well into the future," says Rendell. "Oral argument went very well and showedthe strength and merit of our case. We are confident the appellate court will uphold the logical decision of the district court and allow Pennsylvania to finalize its plans for continued military flight operations at Willow Grove."

The Defense Department chose not to challenge the merits of the governor's case, focusing instead on whether the case was moot now that the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) law had been signed, according to a statement by Rendell's office.

Pennsylvania cited the fact that future BRAC rounds, and more recent attempts by the Defense Department to unilaterally make changes toPennsylvania's Army Guard structure, show that the court must recognize the consent role of the governor in this process.

The commonwealth reiterated that federal law clearly requires the Department of Defense to consult the governor on the future of the unit, and by failing to do so is in violation of the law, Rendell's office says.

"We believe our case is not only timely and with merit, it isimperative to continuing to ensure the safety and security of Pennsylvanians," says Rendell. "This base is too important to stop fighting now."


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