Senators reject military base closures

The Senate Armed Services Committee's 2015 defense policy bill will reject a new round of military base closures, according to leaders of the panel’s subcommittee on military readiness and management.

“The readiness mark does not authorize another round [of closures],” said Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), the subcommittee’s ranking member. “I know that the chair and I are on the exact same page on this.”

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The Department of Defense (DOD) proposed a new round of base closures in its 2015 defense budget request. The House Armed Services Committee, which passed its version of the defense policy bill earlier this month, also rejected a new round of base closures.

Ayotte said government studies have shown that the 2005 base realignment and closure (BRAC) round cost $35 million, instead of the estimated $21 million.

“Now is not the time to spend millions of upfront dollars on another BRAC round, especially as DOD has been forced to ground combat aircraft, cancel ship deployments and furlough workers,” she said.

The proposal came as part of the panel’s $165.9 billion portion of the defense bill, which will be debated and considered by the full Armed Services Committee on Wednesday during a closed session.

The subcommittee’s portion also includes $795 million in funding for the top unfunded military construction requirements of the military service chiefs, and is offset by the same number in reductions, according to the panel’s chairwoman, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).

That would include $104 million to bring shipyards to bring their mandated 6 percent capital investment program goal and $430.6 million for depot maintenance shortfalls.

It would also include money for two National Guard combat training center rotations, “significant” facility sustainment funding, corrosion prevention, and resourcing for two additional Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Forces.

The mark also recommends authorizing $6.5 billion for military construction, housing programs, energy conservation, and base closure activities, including $150 million for the Energy Conservation and Investment Program.

However, Shaheen added, “nothing in the bill should be construed to authorize base realignment and closure.”