Lawmakers Fight Budget Cuts for Hurricane Hunters

Friday, 02 Sep 2011 01:12 PM

By Andra Varin

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With the Atlantic hurricane season in full swing, some lawmakers are urging Congress to scrap plans to slash the budget for hurricane-chasing flights.
The House Appropriations Committee passed a spending plan in July that would reduce the budget for the three-plane Hurricane Hunter squadron by $17 million — or 40 percent. The squadron is operated by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and based at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla.
A battle over funding for those sites, and for emergency relief for areas hit by natural disasters, is looming as Congress returns to work next week, the Miami Herald said Friday.
It comes as much of the East Coast struggles to recover from Hurricane Irene, Katia swirls in the Atlantic, and tropical depression No. 13 threatens to deluge Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states with rain.
Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., toured the National Hurricane Center in Miami on Thursday and vowed to restore the budget for the Hurricane Hunter flights.
“Why do we have to keep going through these kinds of battles?” Nelson said, according to the Herald.
Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Fla., wrote a letter to House Speaker John Boehner also decrying the proposed cuts to the Hurricane Hunter program.
 “For communities across the country facing the threat of devastation from hurricanes, there is no greater asset than information,” Castor said. “The cost of the hurricane hunters operations pale in comparison to the lives and money saved with the increasingly accurate predictions that come from these flights.”

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