Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst is one of five finalists to house the Air Force's new KC-46 tankers.
Six other facilities were eliminated from consideration for the tanker fleet. A decision is expected Dec. 15 and the tankers are expected to be delivered in 2020.
"The joint base is one of our nation's premier air mobility installations, and a great option for housing the KC-46," said Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-3rd Dist.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee.
Lt. Gov Kim Guadagno, chairwoman of the state's Military Installation Growth and Development Task Force, called the announcement "great news" for the base and the state's economy. Rep. Chris Smith (R-4th Dist.) said it was a "positive step."
MacArthur and Rep. Donald Norcross (D-1st Dist.) used the annual defense policy bill to block any efforts to move any of the KC-10 tankers now at the base. The addition of the KC-46 tankers would make it more unlikely that the Pentagon would seek to close or scale back the facility in any future round of military base closings.
"The next generation of air refueling tankers at New Jersey's joint base would mean certainty for future generations of New Jerseyans, for our national security, and the state's economy," Norcross said.
President Barack Obama visited the base in December 2014 to mark the end of U.S. combat operations in Afghanistan.
Four other bases also are in the running to house the fleet: Dover Air Force Base in Delaware; Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Wash.; Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota; and Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, Calif.
Lawmakers said they planned to continue to push the Air Force to select the New Jersey facility.
The base is "strongly positioned from a geographic and strategic standpoint to continue hosting the Air Force's critical refueling mission with new, state of the art aircraft," said U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).
And U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) touted the base's "critical role" in national defense.