Congress Prepared To Fight Obama On Base Closures
President Obama’s budget includes a new round of base closures, but Congress intends to vigorously oppose any plans which Republican lawmakers say would have long-term ramifications on the military’s ability to meet future threats, The Hill reports.
Under Secretary of Defense Mike McCord (Comptroller) thinks that while it’s difficult to persuade Congress for another round of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission starting in 2017, there is a strong possibility that Congress will eventually come around and recognize the need for increased savings. However, McCord emphasized that currently, no concrete estimates for cost savings from another BRAC round exist yet.
Sequestration, however, has already devastated the Department of Defense. The cuts agreed to in 2011 came into play in 2013, leaving the Pentagon with $1 trillion dollars less.
According to Mike Cooper, president of the Association of Defense Communities, it seems unlikely that Congress will budge in the immediate future, given memories of the 2005 BRAC. “There is no way Congress will agree to do a BRAC,” Cooper told Enid News. “There is the threat of sequestration hanging over. There is just no willpower for that.”
Not only is there no willpower, but the central reason articulated by lawmakers like Republican Rep. Randy Forbes of Virginia is that if a BRAC succeeds in shutting down certain facilities, the funds to restart and bring them back to bear may never be available again.
“If you believe our force structure is where it should be right now, then you need to support a BRAC because you will lock it in for the rest of your lifetime and my lifetime,” Forbes, chairman of a subcommittee at the House Armed Services said, according to The Hill. “If you believe, as I believe, that these force structures are not right, that we are going to have to build these force structures up greater, then you’d better fight like the dickens to make sure you don’t have a BRAC.”
The House Armed Services Committee is the first stop for Obama’s proposed budget, and committee member Rep. Tom MacArthur of New Jersey stated firmly that Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in his district won’t be under significant threat if he has any say about the matter.
“Serving on HASC thus puts me in the perfect position to fight against this, and on this committee and in Congress, I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure we don’t see another round of base closures,” MacArthur said, according to NJ.com.
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