Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., unsuccessfully sought a new round of base clsoures. (James J. Lee/Staff)
The Defense Department suffered a setback May 8 as the House Armed Services Committee passed its annual National Defense Authorization Act without authorizing a new round of base closures.
An amendment introduced by Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., ranking member of the committee, would have established a new base realignment and closure (BRAC) commission for a fiscal 2017. Smith withdrew the amendment before it could voted upon.
The National Defense Authorization Act of 2015 passed in the early morning May 8 by voice vote, after hours of debate and dozens of amendment votes. DoD officials have been pushing for a new round of base closures as the services struggle with sequestration and budget cuts.
In 2004, DoD estimated it had about 25 percent excess infrastructure. The 2005 base realignment and closure process cut roughly 3 percent of that. The department saves more than $12 billion a year from the five BRAC rounds announced between 1988 and 2005 and is hoping to save more in a future consolidation.
The proposed 2017 round would also help DoD reduce the size of its civilian workforce by several percentage points, according to DoD officials.
But many lawmakers oppose another round so soon and have pushed back against the Defense Department, while federal groups representing civilian employees have highlighted potential job losses as a reason to hold off.
The committee made the right move to pass on authorizing another round of BRAC, according to National Federation of Federal Employees president William Dougan.
“The last round of BRAC ran $14 billion over cost and has yet to save the American taxpayers a single penny, yet it was devastating to the communities of the 11 Defense installations that were closed,” he said.