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Schumer lobbies Air Force for repairs at Westhampton Beach base

Sen. Chuck Schumer speaks during a news conference

Sen. Chuck Schumer speaks during a news conference in Times Square in Manhattan on Monday, June 13, 2016. Credit: Charles Eckert

Sen. Chuck Schumer said he pressed the nominee for the highest uniformed position in the U.S. Air Force this week for repairs to a leaky roof and other longstanding problems at Long Island’s Air National Guard base in Westhampton Beach.

Schumer (D-New York) said he met Tuesday with Air Force Gen. David Goldfein, who was nominated in April to be the next Air Force chief of staff.

The senator said he asked for upgrades to resolve infrastructure issues at the Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing, based at Francis S. Gabreski Airport.

The private half-hour meeting was held at Schumer’s Washington, D.C., office. An Air Force spokesperson did not respond to a request to contact Goldfein.

Schumer’s office said the base’s communications building has leaked during rain for several years, endangering important computer equipment, and the fire sprinkler system does not work. Upgrades to the base are estimated at $14.4 million.

Schumer said the issues “pose numerous risks to our military personnel on Long Island” and he hopes Goldfein “heeds the call by providing the funds needed to improve this base so that it can continue to operate to its fullest potential.”

Representatives of the 106th Rescue Wing did not respond to calls seeking comment.

Personnel at the base specialize in search and rescue missions in war zones and emergencies within the United States. In recent years, they have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and assisted in the disaster relief effort following superstorm Sandy.

Schumer’s office said the communications building houses the control center for all computers on the base, the telephone switch room, the classified communication vault, and the base’s alarm system.

Goldfein currently serves as the Air Force vice chief of staff. He was selected to succeed retiring Gen. Mark Welsh III, the chief of staff since 2012.

Schumer’s request came before the general’s confirmation, at a time when lawmakers may exert leverage to get commitments from nominees.

Goldfein had a confirmation hearing Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee. If approved by the committee, his confirmation would go before the full Senate.

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