Sens. John McCain and Jack Reed are preparing to offer an amendment to this year’s defense policy bill authorizing a new round of military base closures, POLITICO has learned.
In a 77-page draft of the legislation, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee are seeking support for the Pentagon’s politically-charged request to establish an independent commission to evaluate all U.S. military installations and recommend which to close or consolidate to reduce excess facilities and overhead — with a deadline of December 2021.
The language is expressly written to address lingering concerns among members of Congress about the 2005 BRAC round that have smothered repeated efforts to establish a new one — despite the Pentagon’s insistence year after year that it desperately needs the savings.
The proposal “is a significant departure from the 2005 BRAC round and includes a number of improvements which are all specifically designed to address common critiques from 2005,” according to a summary of the measure. “The amendment is the result of a bipartisan effort over the last several months during which SASC staff consulted with the GAO, DOD, [Association of Defense Communities], CRS, former BRAC commissioners, various think tanks, former DOD staff, etc. in order to incorporate and address lessons learned from previous BRAC rounds.”
The plan still faces many political hurdles. It comes as the House of Representatives today stripped a series of amendments from its version of the National Defense Authorization Act H.R. 2810 (115) that would have authorized a new base closure round.