H.R. 2219, the House’s version of the Fiscal 2012 defense appropriations bill, includes language that would bar the Air Force from using any funds next fiscal year to retire the six B-1B bombers that it wants to. Randy Neugebauer (R-Tex.), whose district is home to Dyess Air Force Base, one of the Air Force’s two B-1 operating installations, introduced the language as an amendment during floor debate on the bill last week. His colleagues approved the measure by voice vote on July 7, one day prior to passing the bill by a 336-87 vote (see below). “This is a very simple amendment. Basically . . . it prevents any funds in this bill from being used to retire the B-1 bombers during the coming fiscal year,” explained Neugebauer on the House floor. “[W]ith the next-generation bomber development still a decade or more away, the Administration’s proposal to retire six B-1s is short sighted and it’s premature,” added Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.), one of the amendment’s co-sponsors, whose state hosts B-1s at Ellsworth Air Force Base. (See also report by Standard-Times of San Angelo, Tex.)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.