In a vote that triggered an animated discussion, the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday rejected an amendment to the fiscal 2014 defense authorization bill that would have allowed the Pentagon to begin planning for a new round of base closures without scheduling a new BRAC process, however.
The provision would have reversed language in the annual policy bill barring the department from planning for an additional BRAC round, but at the same time, it would have prohibited DOD from launching a new round in 2014 or 2015. The administration’s budget request calls for holding a BRAC in 2015.
The amendment’s 44-18 defeat was interesting, if for no other reason, because it provides a barometer of the potential level of support for BRAC, at least among committee members.
The provision was sponsored by ranking member Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash), the rare lawmaker who has publicly backed the Pentagon’s BRAC request. With DOD expected to face automatic budget cuts for the foreseeable future, the department should be given more time to prepare, he said during Wednesday’s markup, reported the Hill.
“With all of this happening, I don’t think this committee has the luxury to be so parochial,” Smith said.
The Readiness portion of the authorization bill, H.R. 1960, includes language precluding the department from using FY 2014 appropriations “to propose, plan for or execute an additional BRAC round.”
At press time, the committee was still grinding through the bill, with debate expected to continue into Thursday morning. The bill is expected to go to the House floor next week.