SENATE ARMED SERVICES SUBCOMMITTEE REJECTS BRAC, REPEALS MISGUIDED SHIPYARD PROVISIONS

Collins, Shaheen, Ayotte Support Subcommittee Provisions that will be Considered by Full Armed Services Committee

May 22, 2012

(Washington, DC)— A key panel today rejected the Pentagon’s request for another round of base closures, with U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) voting with their colleagues to prevent two new Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) rounds.

All three senators are members of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, which approved today its portion of the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the annual Department of Defense budget authorization bill.

The Department of Defense (DoD) recently asked Congress to authorize two new BRAC rounds in Fiscal Years 2013 and 2015.  For a BRAC process to begin, Congress must approve it in the NDAA. The Readiness Subcommittee has jurisdiction over BRAC, so today’s vote means it is much less likely that a BRAC round will be included in this year’s final legislation.

“Another proposed round of BRAC closures now doesn’t make sense for our national defense or for taxpayers.  It is clear that the 2005 BRAC process did not result in the savings that the Pentagon projected,” Collins said.

“While I appreciate the Department’s effort to reduce costs and improve efficiency, it is difficult to conceive how a BRAC round could be done effectively at this time, given the President’s new strategy and the subsequent uncertainty regarding our future force structure and overseas basing requirements,” Shaheen said.  “Frankly, the last time we went through this process, it ended up costing us 50 percent more than we were told and it achieved significantly less savings than we expected. Until we better understand what our future needs are and what went wrong last time, it would be premature to consider another round."

“Given that we’re still paying for previous BRAC rounds from decades ago, it makes no sense to spend tens of billions on a new base closure process,” said Ayotte, who serves as the top Republican on the subcommittee. “Savings can certainly be found within the Pentagon’s budget. But with questions surrounding defense sequestration, overseas force posture, and the size of our forces, now is not the time for BRAC.”

The language approved today also included an important repeal of provisions from last year’s NDAA which would have changed the way DoD allots depot-level maintenance between the nation’s public and private military repair facilities, including shipyards. Based on feedback from both shipyard officials and industry, the changes threatened to negatively affect the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.  The senators will continue to support the repeal of these ill-advised provisions as the bill is considered by the full committee.

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