Congress could offset the economic pain of a new round of base closures occur by passing an infrastructure spending bill investing in the hardest hit communities, former Undersecretary of Defense Policy Michéle Flournoy told the House Armed Services Committee today.

“I think in a year where Congress is also considering an infrastructure investment bill, you could imagine directing some that investment into affected communities,” she said at a hearing on defense reform.

Flournoy identified BRAC as one the four areas the committee should concentrate its reform efforts as it begins to draft the fiscal year 2018 defense authorization bill. She cited a Pentagon study that found the Defense Department currently maintains 22 percent excess infrastructure and that a new BRAC round could potentially save up to $2 billion per year.

“The department desperately needs a BRAC round,” she said.

The panels’ chairman, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) is still awaiting updated capacity data from the Pentagon before he will consider endorsing a new round of base closures, he said.

A previous report provided by the department to the committee was based upon data collected in 2004, he stressed.

“We asked the services a couple years ago to give us some data to support the idea that they have excess infrastructure,” Thornberry said. “I think the attitude a lot of us have is we want to work with you to save money, but we’re going to need something more than something that goes back more than a decade before the last round of BRAC upon which to make a decision.”