The Obama administration isn’t dropping its 2015 defense budget until next week, but one provision in it already appears doomed: a push to relocate or close military bases.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday outlined the Defense Department’s budget request for the coming fiscal year, asking Congress to approve another round of base realignment and closure in 2017.
But Pentagon officials are already hearing that the request would be “dead on arrival on Capitol Hill,” acting Deputy Defense Secretary Christine Fox said Tuesday at a defense budget conference in Washington.
The last round of BRAC, which occurred in 2005, overshot initial cost projections by approximately $14 billion, and in a time of fiscal austerity members of Congress are wary of trying again.
Fox acknowledged that “nobody looks forward to closing bases or facilities,” and it wouldn’t be the first time members have blocked the Pentagon. Defense officials included a request in its past two budget requests, only to be shot down.
Despite Congress’s reluctance, 91 percent of National Journal‘s Security Insiders said earlier this month that Congress needs to allow the Pentagon to close military bases.
But voting to close bases also has a P.R.-angle for members of Congress — who while largely voting to support the smaller budget numbers — don’t want to be responsible for closing bases, and costing jobs, in their own districts and states.
DOD officials believe they have approximately 25 percent more bases than they need for the force reductions the military is undergoing — both in connection to the budget and separately, Fox said.
The savings the Defense Department hopes to achieve through another BRAC round will be included in the soon-to-be-released budget, Fox noted, but added that it “doesn’t show a lot of the long-term savings that we hope to get.”
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
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Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
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