House rejects attempt for base closures in 2018

House rejects attempt for base closures in 2018
© Greg Nash

The House on Thursday voted down a defense policy bill provision that would have taken out language preventing a new round of base closures, going against White House wishes. 

Lawmakers voted 175-248 to reject the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) amendment, offered by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.). 

The amendment would have removed a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) provision barring a new BRAC round, a roadblock included in the bill for several years.

The vote goes against the White House desire to close billions of dollars' worth of unused or underused military facilities in 2018.

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The Office of Management and Budget — in its assessment of the NDAA released Tuesday — said it "strongly urges Congress to provide BRAC authorization as requested so that [the Department of Defense] can ensure it is not wasting scarce resources on unneeded infrastructure.”

Pentagon leaders also want a new round of BRAC as a way to save money — estimating that by 2019 the Defense Department will have more than 20 percent excess capacity — and for years have requested the move.

Even Defense Secretary James Mattis has called BRAC “one of the most successful and significant” efficiency measures the Pentagon has undertaken.

But lawmakers worry the move may be politically unpopular with constituents, as many districts rely on military bases to economically boost their communities.