House lawmakers on Thursday easily defeated an amendment that would have stripped out a prohibition in the fiscal 2017 defense spending bill on proposing, planning or carrying out a new BRAC round.
The amendment fell 157-263, but it gained the overwhelming support of House Democrats, who favored it by a 127-53 margin. Republicans rejected it 30-210. If nothing else, the vote put dozens of lawmakers on record as at least being willing to consider a new round of base closures.
Of course, the amendment was not precisely a referendum on whether the Pentagon should go ahead with a round of base closures, as it would not have authorized a new round. Its sponsor, Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), made the case that Congress should allow DOD “to discuss and plan for efficiencies that could save billions per year that could be used to train and equip our service members,” according to a blog post.
“I did not seek to authorize a new BRAC round, which Congress must do separately. But my amendment was intended to allow DOD to continue to work with Congress toward providing the best for our service members, instead of spending on information and capacity that we don’t need,” O’Rourke wrote.
The two-term congressman represents El Paso, home of Fort Bliss. Later Thursday, the chamber easily passed the underlying appropriations bill, 282-138.