Senate Panel Blocks Plan To Close Bases
Another round of military base closings has hit a dead end, saving Fort Drum and other military installations across the country.
A Senate panel 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.
Congressman Bill Owens says that’s good news for the north country economy, which depends heavily on Fort Drum.
“That has tremendous impact on every aspect of our community, people are eating, buying clothes, they’re buying cars, they’re buying everything you can imagine. Those folks are very important to our Fort Drum and Watertown communities,” said Owens (D. - 21st District).
Tony Keating, the civilian aide to the secretary of the Army, said he was both relieved and concerned to hear about the Senate panel’s decision.
"If BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) is not available for the Department of Defense to cut back on infrastructure, then obviously the cuts have to come from somewhere," said Keating.
The House Armed Services Committee last week also said no to more base closings.
The House and Senate refusals effectively ensure that a final defense policy bill approved by Congress for the 2014 fiscal year won't give the military permission to close bases even as lawmakers clamor for ways to cut the federal deficit.
New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen, the chairwoman of the Senate Armed Services readiness subcommittee, says the upfront costs of starting a new round of closures are too high.
Monday, March 10, 2014, Watertown, NY