Early this afternoon Senator Claire McCaskill (D) held a roundtable discussion on the campus of the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg. Individuals attending the roundtable included members of the Warrensburg, Johnson County, and Whiteman Air Force Base community, as well as representatives of the University of Central Missouri. The primary discussions revolved around the BRAC [Base Realignment and Closure] process being put on hold and other issues affecting the military in the community.
Senator Claire McCaskill (D) at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg on April 9, 2012.
From a March 21, 2012 press release:
As Chairman of panel with jurisdiction over BRAC, Senator cites costs and effect on communities, Announces she will not allow base-closure process to move forward this year
March 21, 2012
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill told top military officials today that, as Chairman of the Senate panel with jurisdiction over base closures, she will not allow any plan to move forward this year to close U.S. military bases here at home.
McCaskill chaired a hearing of her Subcommittee on Military Readiness and Management Support in which she told Pentagon officials that they had not made a convincing case that another round of base-closures would benefit American taxpayers or national security.
McCaskill specifically pointed to serious questions that have been raised about how much money was actually saved in the most recent round of closures in 2005. McCaskill argued that the Pentagon should take a thorough look at the billions of dollars that could be saved by closing some of the 1,000 military installations overseas, many of which she said are relics of the Cold War.
McCaskill added that the upfront costs of base closures could be crippling at a time of constrained defense budgets. The base closure model typically provides for significant upfront costs to move units from closing facilities, with the costs only recovered from savings realized well into the future.
“While I applaud the Department’s desire to find responsible places to achieve savings, there is one area where there is absolutely no room for compromise this year: BRAC,” McCaskill said. “I will not support the request for a BRAC process to be carried out in 2013. Government auditors have not yet completed a final analysis of the recently completed 2005 BRAC round. Congress needs a more complete understanding of our planned force structure, including our overseas force posture, before we even considering a new round of BRAC.”
“The impact BRAC has on our communities around the country, such as those surrounding my home state bases Fort Leonard Wood and Whiteman Air Force Base, is extraordinary,” McCaskill added. “I will not support a process that is callous or casual, or one that is rushed before we fully comprehend whether the traumatic task is clearly in the best interests of the American taxpayer and our national security. The Department has a very long way to go before it proves to me that these initial criteria have been met.”
The Pentagon is requesting a new round of base-closings in order to cut federal spending in the defense budget. Under BRAC, Congress would have to approve legislation to create a new base-closing commission, which would then carry out an independent review of military installations and make recommendations to Congress for closures. The recommendations would not be amendable and would be subject to a single up-or-down vote.
McCaskill’s announcement today that she will not support any new base-closures this year effectively kills any such effort.
Senator Claire McCaskill (D) with University of Central Missouri President Chuck Ambrose after the roundtable discussion.