CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – What happens in Washington directly impacts western Massachusetts, especially with your Congressman Richard Neal’s new title.
“He’s in every major conversation right now, whether it be taxes or healthcare,” said political consultant Tony Cignoli.
The ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee and the dean of the New England congressional delegation is now also a conferee to the National Defense Authorization Act Conference.
This bill determines military spending, including money for our local bases, Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee and Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield. 22News contacted both bases for comment.
Westover Commander Colonel D. Scott Durham declined an on-camera interview, but said in a statement, “Westover remains an important piece of the strategic reserve force for the defense of this country as a whole. We have faith in the legislative process that puts the defense budget in place.”
Westover Air Reserve Base is operated by the federal government which means cuts in Washington directly impact the base. In the past 40 years, Chicopee has seen a drastic cut in size to this base when it comes to equipment and personnel, particularly mechanics. The base still employs about 1,000 people daily and has a total force strength of about 5,000 workers, including contractors, reservists and full-time active-duty members.
Congressman Neal said this act also provides jobs – local jobs – through military contracts. He named Warren Pumps in Warren and General Dynamics in Pittsfield.
“Arguably with Congressman Neal in this position, he may be in a spot where he can help make sure that they get a fair shake, that they’re not overlooked by a larger company, or a larger corporation, or a player from somewhere else in the United States,” explained Cignoli.
In addition to funding for military equipment and bases, this bill also determines pay and benefits for military personnel. You can read more about this bill, and Congressman Neal’s title here.