Senate Panel Leaves BRAC Authorization out of Policy Bill
The Senate Armed Services’ Readiness and Management Support Subcommittee failed to endorse the Pentagon’s request for BRAC rounds in 2013 and 2015 in the portion of the fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill it marked up Tuesday.
The outcome was not a surprise as the panel’s chair, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), previously revealed her opposition to the department’s request.
“At minimum, base closures are extraordinarily disruptive to local communities, so before we even consider authorizing another round of BRAC, Congress must have a much better understanding of how future BRACs would affect our budget, our national security interests and the communities that patriotically support bases around this country,” McCaskill said, according to a written version of her opening statement at the markup.
And, because the military is in the midst of drawing down its forces from the Middle East, DOD should ensure its overseas posture is appropriate before closing bases in the United States, she added.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), the panel’s ranking member, was equally critical of the request for two BRAC rounds.
“Given that we’re still paying for previous BRAC rounds from decades ago, it makes no sense to spend tens of billions on a new base closure process,” Ayotte said. “Savings can certainly be found within the Pentagon’s budget. But with questions surrounding defense sequestration, overseas force posture, and the size of our forces, now is not the time for BRAC.”
The subcommittee did not release a copy of its portion of the measure, but statements from the two lawmakers disclosed some of its details:
- military construction funding would be cut by more $600 million, through a combination of spending reductions for projects and outright cancellations;
- a provision would require DOD to issue guidance on the tracking and handling of possible environmental exposures on military installations; and
- it would repeal language from last year’s authorization bill changing how DOD allots depot-level maintenance between the nation’s public and private repair facilities, including shipyards.
The full committee will be begin marking up the bill today and may complete its work by Thursday. Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and ranking member John McCain (R-Ariz.) are expected to address the budget sequester slated to slash department spending by up to $500 billion over the coming decade, reported CQ Today.