Pentagon Asks Congress for Permission to Close Military Bases

But members have repeatedly blocked past attempts.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel responds to a question from a reporter at the Pentagon, September 18, 2013 in Arlington, Virginia.
National Journal
Jordain Carney
Add to Briefcase
Jordain Carney
Feb. 25, 2014, 4:29 a.m.

De­fense Sec­ret­ary Chuck Hagel is ask­ing for an­oth­er round of base clos­ures as part of the fisc­al 2015 budget re­quest — just don’t ex­pect mem­bers of Con­gress to go along quietly.

The top Pentagon of­fi­cial asked for a new round of base re­align­ment and clos­ure in 2017, but ac­know­ledged that he faces an up­hill fight on the Hill. “I am mind­ful that Con­gress has not agreed to our BRAC re­quests in the last two years,” Hagel said.

And it’s a fa­mil­i­ar fight for the de­part­ment, which asked for a round of BRAC when it presen­ted its budget last year, as well as the year be­fore that. But the idea was quickly shot down by mem­bers of Con­gress in both cham­bers and parties.

“The one thing on the Hill where I al­ways found un­an­im­ity is on op­pos­i­tion to BRAC,” Eric Fan­ning, the un­der­sec­ret­ary for the Air Force, said Tues­day morn­ing at a Wash­ing­ton de­fense con­fer­ence.

Fan­ning said Pentagon of­fi­cials have been on the Hill dis­cuss­ing the trade-offs the de­part­ment faces with the budget crunch.

Rising costs from a 2005 re­com­mend­a­tions for BRAC left some mem­bers of Con­gress hes­it­ant to try again. The BRAC com­mis­sion ori­gin­ally es­tim­ated that it would cost the Pentagon $21 bil­lion to fol­low its re­com­mend­a­tions, but, ac­cord­ing to a 2012 GAO re­port, the cost ended up around $35.1 bil­lion.

But Hagel said that if Con­gress “con­tin­ues to block these re­quests even as they slash the over­all budget,” de­part­ment of­fi­cials will look for oth­er ways to re­duce in­fra­struc­ture.

And one of those op­tions is clos­ing bases in Europe, which aren’t sub­ject to the BRAC com­mis­sion’s ap­prov­al. Hagel said the Pentagon will pur­sue an­oth­er round of base clos­ings and re­align­ment based on re­com­mend­a­tions from the European In­fra­struc­ture Con­sol­id­a­tion Re­view this spring.

And Hagel noted that “in Europe, where BRAC au­thor­ity is not needed, we have re­duced our in­fra­struc­ture by 30 per­cent since 2000.”

There could be an­oth­er — ad­mit­tedly ob­scure — work-around.

House Armed Ser­vices staffer Vick­ie Plun­kett said at a con­fer­ence earli­er this month that Sec­tion 2687 of Title 10, which reg­u­lates the De­fense De­part­ment, would al­low the Pentagon to close bases and “only re­quires no­ti­fic­a­tion to Con­gress” be­fore the clos­ure takes place.

“The au­thor­it­ies only re­quire no­ti­fic­a­tion. Take your chances, be­cause it’s go­ing to re­quire us to get our act to­geth­er to stop it,” she said.

What We're Following See More »
COMES AFTER COST ESTIMATE WAS TRIPLE ORIGINAL ESTIMATE
Military Parade Delayed Until 2019
7 hours ago
THE LATEST
"A CASE ABOUT LIES"
Manafort Case Moves to Closing Arguments
1 days ago
THE LATEST
THEY CALLED NO WITNESSES
Manafort Defense Rests
2 days ago
THE LATEST
ANDREW MILLER IS AN AIDE TO ROGER STONE
Judge Holds Witness in Contempt in Manafort Case
6 days ago
THE LATEST

"A federal judge has found a witness in contempt for refusing to testify before the grand jury hearing evidence in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. U.S. District Chief Judge Beryl Howell made the ruling Friday after a sealed hearing to discuss Andrew Miller’s refusal to appear before the grand jury. Miller is a former aide to longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone."

Source:
TAX FRAUD, FAILURE TO REGISTER
Gates Says He Committed Crimes with Manafort
1 weeks ago
THE LATEST

Paul Manafort's former business partner Rick Gates said in court today that "he conspired with Manafort to falsify Manafort’s tax returns. Gates said he and Manafort knowingly failed to report foreign bank accounts and had failed to register Manafort as a foreign agent."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login