Ryan Feels ‘Pretty Good’ About YARS Getting Aircraft

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Air Force Reserve likely will decide next year where to place four C130J aircraft included in the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan said.

NDAA passed the U.S. House of Representatives last night, and now moves to the Senate for consideration. It contains nearly $400 million for the aircraft, which Ryan, D-13 Ohio, told reporters he would work hard to get at least some of the planes designated for Youngstown Air Reserve Station in Vienna Township.

“At some point next year, the Air Force Reserve is going to make a decision as to where they go,” Ryan said. He pledged to advocate from his position as a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee to advocate for locating them at YARS.

The legislation was among several topics the congressman addressed during a Thursday morning conference call with media outlets.

Ryan said he felt “pretty good” about prospects for securing the aircraft for YARS. “But it’s never over until it’s over,” he added.

YARS is home to the 910th Airlift Wing, which has the Air Force’s only fixed-wing aerial spray mission. Last year, legislation passed that prioritized allocating aircraft to specialty missions, which Ryan said bodes well for the chances of getting the aircraft at YARS.

“We appreciate everything Congressman Ryan has done to make sure the men and women of the 910th are in the best equipment, and deeply appreciate his ever-vigilant attitude toward national defense and the importance of the 910th to the Valley’s economy as a whole,” Vito Abruzzino, executive director of the Eastern Ohio Military Affairs Commission, said earlier this week.

During the call, Ryan told reporters that he had not decided whether he would support the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced Tuesday that an agreement had been reached on the pact, which would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Ryan said he was still reviewing the trade deal, which offers “significant improvements” over NAFTA.

“I want to be able to vote on this,” he said. “Is it perfect? No, but we’re looking at these improvements. Overall it looks good but I’m going to withhold judgment until we’re able to look at the entire package.”

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, spoke on the Senate floor Thursday in support of the agreement, which levels the playing field in terms of wages and opens new markets for farmers, among other provisions.

“No agreement is ever perfect,” the former U.S. trade representative acknowledged. “To make the perfect the enemy of the good is going to hurt the farmers and the workers and the small businesses who we represent who want this agreement badly because they know it’s going to help them.”

Thursday the Democratic-led House passed the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act. Provisions in the legislation include ending the ban on Medicare negotiating directly with drug companies for lower prices on medication.

Ryan voted in favor of the bill, while U.S. Reps. Bill Johnson, R-6 Ohio, and Mike Kelly, R-16 Pennsylvania, voted against it.

Kelly accused Democrats of scoring “a few cheap political points with their socialist base” by voting to pass the legislation, but did nothing to help Americans who struggle to pay for their medications.

“This government price-fixing scheme would lead to the development of fewer new cures and reduce access to existing life-saving drugs,” he said. “We should focus our efforts on policy that will work and can pass such as H.R. 19, a bipartisan alternative to H.R. 3 that won’t threaten medical innovation.”

On Twitter, Johnson cited estimates that predict the bill would lead to 100 fewer cures for diseases. “We should not have to stifle innovation” to lower the cost of prescription drugs, he wrote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in September that the Senate would not take up the legislation. This week, the White House issued a statement that president Donald Trump would veto the bill if it reached him in its current form.

“The president has said he wants to deal with the prescription drug issue so I’m a little bit surprised he’s not jumping at the opportunity here,” Ryan said.

House passage of the legislation “puts a marker in the ground,” Ryan said. “That’s a significant issue to be campaigned on next year,” he added.

Votes and these bills and year-end negotiations on spending bills are taking place against the backdrop of impeachment. The House this week unveiled two articles of impeachment against Trump, based on efforts he reportedly tried to influence Ukraine to launch an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, one of his likely opponents in next year’s presidential election, and his efforts to obstruct a House investigation into the matter.

The president can’t “basically shake down a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent,” he said. Ryan expects the House to take up the articles possibly Thursday.

“This whole thing has been pretty straightforward. I wish we weren’t focused on this,” he said. “I don’t want to deal with it but when it happens you have to deal with it.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.