Base Closures To Proceed

Senate Rejects Effort To Curb Base Closings (
Even the soldiers on the ground favor base closures. I recently read an article where we have twice the number of domestic bases needed and money spent on them is not available for raises, modernization and other needs.

Hopefully politics won’t interfere with the base closure as it did in the last round. In 1995 President Clinton intervened in the commission’s work to try to protect bases in Texas and California, states he wanted to win in the 1996 election:

President Clinton’s intervention in the 1995 round to move bases in California and Texas off the closure list had been cited frequently by opponents as justification to reject new closures. However, with a new Republican President with a majority of his party in the House and an even split in the Senate, this latest closure bill will probably generate open debate on its merits, rather than on the actions of the former President.

If we can avoid politics and do the right thing, money will be saved and the military will be streamlined.

The Senate yesterday turned back an effort to scuttle a new round of military base closings scheduled for 2005, rejecting critics’ arguments that economic and military climates are too uncertain to justify more closures.

Wrapping up leftover work on the $400.5 billion defense authorization bill for next year, the Senate also approved proposals to expedite citizenship for immigrants who serve in the U.S. military and to expand retirement benefits for disabled veterans. Both were approved by voice vote.

The House voted 414 to 5 yesterday to approve a separate bill to speed up naturalization for immigrants in the military, enhancing prospects for its enactment. The outlook for the retirement benefits proposal was more doubtful.

The defense bill will now go to a House-Senate conference, where another round of arguments over base closures appears likely. Closing bases is always controversial because military facilities generally play big roles in local economies and in local elected officials’ political futures.

The House, normally more skittish than the Senate over base closures, voted earlier to limit the number of bases that could be considered for elimination.

The Senate’s 53 to 42 vote to move ahead with the 2005 round of base closings represented a victory for the Pentagon and for a bipartisan group of senators who argued that savings from the closure of obsolete bases — estimated at $6 billion a year — could better be used in the war against terrorism.

Without Clinton’s interference in the process in 1995 for political advantage, that commission would have continued and most of the heavy lifting would have already been done. Pure politics delayed the commission by ten years and cost billions of dollars that could have been used elsewhere. Another part of the Clinton legacy.

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