WASHINGTON -- The Senate has passed legislation to speed government contracts to modernize the aging fleet of Forest Service tanker planes that dump suppressants on Western wildfires.
The legislation would waive a 30-day waiting period that's required before the Forest Service can award contracts for seven new tankers. The agency has told Congress that it's made the decision to award the contracts but has to wait until late June to officially award the contracts. The House has yet to act on the measure.
Oregon Democratic Rep. Ron Wyden says the tankers wouldn't go into service for months but that it's important to move as quickly as possible following accidents last weekend that caused the loss of one of the 11 available air tankers and the grounding of another for repairs.