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As a haven for U.S. Army recruiting, ROTC and human resource functions, Fort Knox’s future is secure as it stands squarely at the center of the Army’s mission, said U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas.
Thornberry, vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, toured the post Monday as a guest of U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie, R-Bowling Green, and fielded questions from the media at Radcliff City Hall following the tour.
Thornberry visited Human Resources Command, the Warrior Transition Battalion, Cadet Command and other units, expressing surprise at how many vital missions are being performed on the installation. Likewise, Thornberry said Fort Knox’s award-winning energy program could reap benefits for other military bases and the diversity of its training ranges offers an array of options to those who use them.
“It is impressive,” he said.
Guthrie invited Thornberry to visit Kentucky as a way to ensure he understands the military value of Fort Knox. He wants to make visits by other Congressmen a recurring concept as he reaches out to members of the armed services and appropriations committees, illustrating in person the merits of Fort Knox.
He has doubled down his efforts to protect the post after the deactivation of the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. Guthrie said he has received assurances by Army leadership that Human Resources Command, which employees thousands of civilians and takes up nearly one million square feet of real estate on post, is safe.
“I want to make sure,” he said. “I’m not going to take anything for granted.”
Like most posts Thornberry has visited, Fort Knox has been able to mitigate the mandated cuts rendered through sequestration by moving money around, he said, but a second year of automatic cuts could be disastrous on military programs across the board and possibly jeopardize national security by depleting areas of the defense budget that are not growing, the two men said.
Thornberry said you cannot make so many cuts to one sector of the federal government without harming the product, with cuts already impacting military readiness and training.
Both Guthrie and Thornberry support a plan to trim the deficit by finding savings in growing programs across the federal government, such as healthcare.
“You could pay for sequestration by defunding Obamacare,” Guthrie said.
Guthrie has cast a vote that supports defunding the healthcare reform law because he does not believe it can be implemented in its current form. He said it places an undue strain on small businesses by pricing them out of the insurance market without waivers and has led businesses to cast aside their health insurance benefits for employees and their spouses in certain instances.
Guthrie instead lobbied for insurance reforms by allowing the sale of private insurance across state lines and instituting tort reform.
“Let’s make health insurance more affordable,” he said.
During the discussion, he denounced President Barack Obama as an unwilling negotiator with Republicans on changes to the law.
Guthrie also addressed rumors circulating around the state that he may consider pursuing the Senate seat of fellow Bowling Green Republican Rand Paul should Paul choose to run for president in 2016.
After swatting away claims he wanted to run for governor, Guthrie said he is not ruling anything out this early but is uncertain if he wants to give up the strides he has made in the House to start over as a freshman senator. His decision also hinges on Paul’s choice, he said.
“I’m not dying to be called senator,” Guthrie said.
Marty Finley can be reached at 270-505-1762 or firstname.lastname@example.org.