BRAC Early Bird 7 September 2005 Page: 4 of 10
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communities around the country with little hope
that targeted facilities will be spared.
Bush is now focused on the hurricane-ravaged
Gulf Coast rather than on base closures, analysts
said. Scrapping the closure process now - after a
nine-member commission has completed its
review of the Pentagon plan - could leave him
open to criticism when his poll numbers already
are at a low point for his presidency.
"The president has got much bigger issues to
worry about right now," said Loren Thompson,
an analyst at the Lexington Institute, a think tank
in Arlington, Va.
Congress, too, is consumed with other priorities.
And a GOP-led effort in the Senate to derail the
process - one that Republican leaders privately
feared could embarrass them - has largely
The commission that changed parts of the
Pentagon plan last month denied politics played
a role in any of its decisions, even as it chose to
keep open bases in the home states of Sen. John
Thune, R-S.D., and other senators leading the
opposition. That all but eliminated the
possibility of congressional intervention. The
vast majority of House members
overwhelmingly support this round of closures
and consolidations, the first in a decade.
After five months of work, the commission must
send its final report to the president by
Thursday. He can accept it, kill it or, by Sept.
23, send it back to the panel for more changes.
Congress has 45 days from the day it receives
the report from the president to pass a joint
resolution rejecting it in its entirety or it
becomes law. Lawmakers have never rejected
reports in previous base-closing rounds.
Last month, the commission largely endorsed
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's vision
to restructure the domestic network of military
bases to save billions of dollars over the next
two decades and streamline the Army, Navy and
But the panel also chose to keep open several
major bases against the Pentagon's wishes,
including a shipyard in Kittery, Maine, a
submarine base in Groton, Conn., and Air Force
bases in South Dakota and New Mexico.
Within days, Rumsfeld expressed reservations
about such high-profile changes and said he was
uncertain whether he would recommend that the
president accept the proposed closures as
modified by the commission. However,
Rumsfeld also noted that the commission signed
off on the majority of the Pentagon's
That, analysts said, lessens the chance that the
White House will reject the plan.
"Even though they didn't get everything they
wanted, they got a lot of what they wanted," said
Christopher Hellman, a base-closing expert at
the Center for Arms Control and
Nonproliferation, a national security policy
Plus, analysts said, this may be the last chance
the White House and Pentagon have to save
money by shuttering bases because Congress
probably will resist signing off on another round
of closures, given the large amount of heartache
lawmakers now are experiencing.
Congress reluctantly authorized this round of
closures only after the White House threatened
to veto an entire defense bill if it didn't give the
Pentagon the go-ahead. Lawmakers have griped
and vowed to stop the closures ever since.
The House never came close to passing
measures to delay or kill the process. But GOP-
sponsored legislation in the Republican-led
Senate was gaining steam just before Congress
left for its summer break.
Thune sponsored the legislation after the
Pentagon announced in May that it wanted to
close Ellsworth Air Force Base in his home state
of South Dakota. He then secured the backing of
other lawmakers, including several more
Republicans, whose states also were slated to
BRAC Commission Early Bird
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United States. Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission. BRAC Early Bird 7 September 2005, text, September 8, 2005; (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc23921/m1/4/: accessed October 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.