October 27, 2005

House defeats effort to derail base closings

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives on
Thursday overwhelmingly rejected an effort to stop the closure
and reconfiguration of hundreds of military bases, clearing the
way for the plan to go forward in 2006.

The House voted down by a 324 to 85 margin a proposal by
Rep. Ray LaHood, an Illinois Republican, to reject the findings
of an independent base closing commission. LaHood's resolution
had been expected to fail by a wide margin.

The nine-member panel recommended in September the federal
government close 22 big bases and reconfigure 33 others.
Hundreds of smaller facilities also face changes under the

President George W. Bush supported the proposal, which was
developed over 2 1/2 years and is the first of its kind in over
a decade. It is estimated to save taxpayers $15.1 billion over
20 years, the commission said.

Lahood said approving the recommendations would send the
wrong message to American troops in Iraq, and questioned
whether the savings were achievable.

Several states -- including Tennessee, Connecticut, and
Missouri -- have filed legal challenges claiming federal laws
require a governor's consent to make major changes to the
deployment of National Guard units.

Previous rounds of base closings were implemented in 1991
and 1993.

The base closing commission, made up of retired officers,
lawmakers and other ex-government officials, reviewed base
closure plans proposed by the Defense Department.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has said the closure and
reconfiguration plan was a unique opportunity to reshape the
U.S. military for new missions and prepare it for the return of
troops from Europe and other parts of the world.