Panel Moves To Bar Military Base Closings
Closing military bases around the country as a part of budget cuts seems to be an tough egg to crack. In fact, it’s so hard to do that the House Armed Services Committee took the step of barring the Pentagon from even planning another round of closings!
WASHINGTON — Another round of military base closings has hit a dead end.
The Senate Armed Services readiness subcommittee on Tuesday approved legislation rejecting the Defense Department’s request to shutter installations and facilities in the United States that are no longer needed as the military branches cut the number of troops in uniform.
The House Armed Services Committee last week also said “no” to more base closings, and even took the step of adding a provision barring the Pentagon from even planning for another round.
The refusals by the House and Senate effectively ensure that a final defense policy bill approved by Congress for the 2014 fiscal year won’t give the department permission to close excess bases even as lawmakers clamor for ways to cut the federal deficit.
Lawmakers also have rebuffed the Defense Department’s attempts to rein in spending on the costly military health care program by increasing enrollment fees for military retirees and their dependents. Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale warned during a separate congressional hearing Tuesday that the military would have to cut about 25,000 troops to offset the expense if it can’t slow the growth of the health care program by 2018.
Rejection of the base closing request in the House defense policy bill along with several other provisions limiting President Barack Obama’s authority prompted the White House to threaten a veto of the measure.
Specifically, the White House complained about provisions that would restrict the president’s ability to transfer terror suspects from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and to implement a nuclear reduction treaty with Russia.
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