Democratic Lawmaker Calls For New BRAC; Local Delegation Slams Plan
By Adam Benson
Norwich Bulletin
May 6, 2014
With Congress poised to vote on an amendment to the federal defense spending budget that would call for a new Base Closure and Realignment round, Connecticut lawmakers are reacting with their typical two-word response: No chance.
“I have absolutely no idea and no interest in what the House (of Representatives) does on this issue, because I know the result in the Senate, and it’s dead on arrival,” U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said. “I’m personally growing tired of the repeated proposals for a process that makes no sense for the whole nation. It’s inane bordering on insane.”
On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., announced plans to alter the National Defense Reauthorization Act by inserting language authorizing the Department of Defense to move forward with another BRAC. It would be the first since 2005.
In May of that year, the Pentagon recommended closing the Naval submarine base in Groton, but the BRAC commission in August 2005 voted 7-1 to strike it from the list.
Under Smith’s plan, “the primary objective of a new BRAC round would be to eliminate excess infrastructure and reconfigure the remaining infrastructure to maximize efficiency,” Smith, ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a prepared statement. “In addition, any realignments or changes to infrastructure must yield net savings within five years of completing the action.”
U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said even a narrowly structured BRAC is too excessive to satisfy opponents. He plans to vote against Smith’s amendment.
“If the Department of Defense feels there is excess capacity, tell us about it. Don’t create another BRAC list,” he said. “There are ways they can reduce overhead without having full closure of installations.”
Lawmakers pointed to a recently reached $17.6 billion contract between the Navy and Electric Boat to construct 10 Virginia-class submarines over the next five years as evidence that Connecticut should be insulated from any possible BRAC.
“We’ve been saying for years now that Connecticut is building the right things at the right time, and that big contract that went to EB is confirmation of that,” said Robert Ross, executive director of the state’s Office of Military Affairs.
Courtney, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said he’s confident other lawmakers will reject Smith’s amendment as part of the overall defense spending measure.
“I think the prognosis is very poor that this amendment will prevail,” Courtney said.