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Tester, Bailey Introduce Bill to Study Overseas Base Closure

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  • October 19, 2011
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A federal commission would be created to consider closing outdated overseas military bases, under a bill introduced Wednesday by Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas).

The report and recommendations prepared by the eight-member commission for the president and Congress would include a proposed overseas basing strategy for current and future missions, taking into account “heightened fiscal constraints,” according to the legislation.

Modeled after the 2005 Overseas Basing Commission, the panel would re-examine many issues in light of the nation’s current fiscal challenges, new military capabilities and evolving security threats. Last year, the president’s bipartisan deficit reduction commission estimated that responsible overseas base closings could save taxpayers $8.5 billion through 2015.

The proposal calls for the commission to:

  • review the number of forces required to be based outside of the United States;
  • scrutinize the state of U.S. military facilities and training ranges overseas for permanent and deployed locations;
  • determine the amount of compensation received from foreign countries; and
  • assess the feasibility of closing or realigning overseas facilities, or establishing new ones.

The lawmakers cited a variety of factors in explaining the need for the measure, including the nation’s debt crisis and creating jobs. “With today’s historic levels of debt, we need to move quickly to identify ways that we can bring our military training capabilities home, create American jobs in military construction and save taxpayer dollars without sacrificing the security needs of U.S. forces and the American people,” Hutchison said.

On Tuesday, Tester and Hutchison wrote a letter to the congressional committee for deficit reduction urging the panel to significantly reduce spending on overseas military construction projects, saying that DOD failed to properly analyze costs for numerous base projects.

“We believe that significant savings can be achieved by dramatically reducing our overseas military presence, halting associated overseas military construction and returning those forces to installations with adequate existing infrastructure in place in the United States,” the lawmakers wrote.

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