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Monday, May 16, 2022

Business Groups Excited by New Majority Leader

With Rep. Kevin McCarthy taking over as Majority Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Antelope Valley business community is celebrating the ascension of a local development advocate to the No. 2 position in the House. High desert business leaders have had a long and successful relationship with McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, and now hope to further leverage that relationship with his new position. A month before McCarthy was elected Majority Leader, members of the Antelope Valley Board of Trade visited with him at his Washington, D.C. office – just as they have for much of his time in office. “I believe he will remain true to his roots,” said Vicki Medina, the group’s executive director. “We have a great guy in a great place at a great time.” McCarthy was first elected to the House in 2006, became Majority Whip in 2011 and was elected Majority Leader June 19. His district includes parts of Lancaster, the communities of Rosamond, Mojave and Tehachapi, and Edwards Air Force Base. McCarthy said the Antelope Valley aerospace industry was a key contributor the area’s economy and he looked forward to continue supporting the industry in his new position. “The impacts of the Antelope Valley are felt throughout the country and into space. My commitment to support the work done in the AV has never been stronger,” he said, in an email statement to the Business Journal. The U.S. Air Force base is the single largest employer in the Antelope Valley, and it has been one of the focal points of discussions between the Board of Trade and the congressman, Medina said. And with the U.S. military consolidating some of its bases, there is at least the potential that Edwards could be in for some cuts. Al Hoffman, site manager for Boeing Co. at Edwards and NASA Neil A. Armstrong Flight Research Center, said having McCarthy in such a powerful position is a good thing for the base. “If we see opportunities of other bases or NASA facilities doing consolidation we will lobby to have it moved out to the desert,” he said. McCarthy, in fact, played a substantial role in getting the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center re-named in honor of Apollo astronaut and test pilot Neil Armstrong, Hoffman said. Previous efforts to get the name change had not shown results, and McCarthy reintroduced a bill in Congress after Armstrong passed away in August 2012. The name change became official in May. McCarthy also proved helpful in securing additional funding for SOFIA, or the stratospheric observatory for infrared astronomy, a 17-ton telescope carried aboard a modified 747 jumbo jet operated by NASA Armstrong out of Palmdale. The telescope studies stellar objects on the infrared spectrum. There was talk the program could be shut down at the end of this fiscal year, but changes made in both houses of Congress to the 2015 fiscal year budget helped find money to keep SOFIA in the air, Hoffman said. “The congressman’s office played a good role to push that forward,” he added.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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