The United States House of Representatives passed unanimously yesterday, Tuesday, July 23rd , an amendment to the defense appropriations bill that prohibits the US Air Force from reducing the force structure at Lajes Field in Fiscal Year 2014.
Last year, the United States had informed the Portuguese government that the future of the Lajes Air Field was uncertain and that U.S. Air Force was losing interest in the military facility.
Lajes Air Field is the second largest employer on the island, employing about 700 tenured Portuguese workers and nearly 90 short-term workers. The U.S. decision to down size the military outpost would have a significant economic impact over job losses on the island.
The sponsors of the amendment were Congressional Portuguese American Caucus Co-Chairs Representatives Jim Costa, David Valadao, and David Cicilline, along with caucus members Devin Nunes, James Langevin, and William Keating.
This coalition of House members, made up of the Congressional Portuguese American Caucus Co-Chairs and Members, were key advocates in getting the support of the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Committee on Armed Services and passing on June 14th HR1960: The National Defense Authorization Act for FY14 which included a limitation regarding Lajes Field.
In a prepared statement, the National Organization of Portuguese Americans (NOPA) has stated that it “is pleased to have been part of the process by taking lead with advocacy efforts last month with a call to action to the Portuguese American Community to contact their elected officials.”
NOPA also congratulates the Portuguese American community for “becoming a stronger voice in Congress for representing the interests of the Portuguese American agenda and promoting positive relations between Portugal and the United States.”
NOPA urges Portuguese American constituents “to contact and thank the Congressmen listed and their staff who were served as champions for the interests our Portuguese American community.”
The Azores (population 250,000) became an Autonomous Region of Portugal in 1976. The government of the Autonomous Region of the Azores includes the Legislative Assembly, composed of 57 elected deputies, elected by universal suffrage for a four-year term; the Regional Government and Presidency, with parliamentary legitimacy, composed of a President, a Vice-President and seven Regional Secretaries responsible for the Regional Government executive operations. The Autonomous Region of the Azores is represented in the Council of Ministers of the Central Government by a representative appointed by the President of Portugal