Portland, OR – Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced today that the Senate Appropriations Committee has provided funding for the U.S. Coast Guard helicopter facility in Newport to stay open through September 2016. The funding was included in the Homeland Security appropriations bill for fiscal year 2016, which passed the committee this morning. The bill must still pass the full Senate and the House of Representatives and be signed by the President for the funding to be assured.
“The Newport helicopter facility has helped save countless lives over the years and now we are one step closer to keeping it open for an additional year,” said Merkley. “It’s crucial that we keep this lifesaving facility operating on Oregon’s central coast.”
“I’m gratified that the Senate Appropriations Committee heard my request loud and clear and provided the critical funding to keep Newport’s air facility open through September 2016,” Wyden said. “Today’s good news about this extension for the Coast Guard station provides us more time to seek a long-term permanent solution that recognizes the facility must remain in Newport. Given the Coast Guard’s record of saving lives in the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean, keeping that facility open in Newport is literally a life-or-death question.”
Since last fall when news came out that the Newport helicopter facility was on the closure list, Senators Merkley and Wyden have worked with Representatives Schrader, Defazio, Blumenauer and Bonamici to keep this facility open and able to assist when the distress call comes. Today’s actions by the Appropriations Committee put the funding for the Newport helicopter facility one step closer to reality.
“This is great news coming out of Congress today and we want to thank Senator Merkley for using his seat on the Appropriations Committee to secure funding for the Newport helicopter facility for another year,” said Jennifer Stevenson, President of the Newport Fishermen’s Wives. “The fight is not over yet and we still need to work on permanent funding so we never have to worry about this crucial facility closing.”
Merkley is the first Oregon Senator to sit on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee since his mentor, Mark Hatfield. He has vowed to use his position on the Appropriations Committee to fight for Oregon’s priorities and middle-class families.