McKeon Takes Firm Stance against BRAC
Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, on Wednesday said he flatly opposes a new base closure round, most likely leaving the question as to whether Congress this year will authorize a sixth BRAC to the Senate.
McKeon’s position on the Obama administration’s proposal for a new BRAC round is hardly surprising, given his harsh response after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta unveiled details of the department’s fiscal 2013 budget request last week.
In comments to a Reserve Officers Association national security symposium, McKeon said he would not include authorization for another BRAC in the FY 2013 defense authorization bill, reported Army Times. And if the Senate’s version of the legislation includes a BRAC round, “we’ll fight it out in conference,” he said.
The likelihood that the Senate’s version of the annual defense spending bill calls for another BRAC is low as well, as Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said last week that he would not support the administration’s request until after the Pentagon scales back its overseas infrastructure.
The ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, however, said he would support a new round. “I don’t see how any person looking at the strategy and looking at the changes coming down could conclude otherwise,” Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said last week.
The request for a BRAC most likely will play out with lawmakers in this year’s authorization bill requiring DOD to prepare a study on the value of another round. That would be followed in the FY 2014 authorization measure with language authorizing a new base closure round, David Berteau, senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Army Times.
McKeon’s remarks at the Reserve Officers Association followed those of Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said reductions in DOD’s inventory of installations are needed as officials attempt to form a “balanced force.” If lawmakers exclude military installations from the budget knife, Dempsey said, they will need to make up for it in other areas of the budget if they hope to find $487 billion in reductions mandated under last August’s agreement to raise the debt ceiling.