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House moves to block another BRAC round

WASHINGTON – Congress is again batting away attempts by the Pentagon to shut down domestic bases that defense officials say are underused and unneeded by a military that is being forced to shrink by a falling defense budget.

Defense budget language introduced by House lawmakers on Wednesday forbids the Defense Department from planning or initiating another round of Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC.

The Pentagon’s 2014 budget request calls for a new round of BRAC in 2015, with defense officials arguing it will result in long-term savings for the department. The last five BRAC rounds, they say, are resulting in a $12 billion yearly savings.

“We have to ask” for BRAC, DOD Comptroller Robert Hale said in April. “We know we need it.”

The Pentagon proposed a new round of BRAC last year as well, but a lawmakers from both parties quickly shut it down, pointing to a U.S. Government Accountability Office study that said the costs for the 2005 BRAC round were underestimated to the tune of $14 billion.

The language introduced Wednesday was in a section of the National Defense Authorization Act under consideration by the House Armed Services Committee’s readiness subcommittee. The full committee is expected to vote on a defense budget next week.
 

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