The chairman and ranking member of the Senate Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee both expressed their support for the Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) during a hearing Thursday on the administration’s fiscal 2019 budget request for military construction. Their remarks followed in the wake of a proposal by House Armed Services Chair Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) to eliminate OEA and six other defense support agencies as part of a broader initiative to trim spending on Pentagon overhead by 25 percent.
At the outset of questioning the witnesses, Chairman John Boozman (R-Ark.) told Lucian Niemeyer, assistant secretary of defense for energy, installations and environment, he was pleased to see that his prepared testimony included language highlighting the role played by OEA. “OEA’s work is important in the state of Arkansas. And we are currently engaged with OEA on several joint land use studies for installations. I believe maintaining support for this office is crucial and I’m glad you view their work in collaboration with local communities as important and essential as I do,” Boozman said.
Niemeyer’s written testimony touched on the agency’s role in preserving DOD’s testing and training ranges, strengthening defense supply chains and promoting alliances between installations and their surrounding communities. “Maintaining support for this office is crucial to the continued ability of our installations to safely and securely operate while responding to fluctuations in military activities, and keeping faith with our service members and families by addressing quality of life issues in local defense communities,” he stated.
At the conclusion of the hearing, ranking member Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said he wanted “to echo the chairman’s enthusiasm” for OEA. “From the policymakers’ perspective, I think it’s at least pretty nearly unanimous,” Schatz said. A webcast of the hearing can be found on the committee’s website.
DOD photo by Army Sgt. James McCann