Panel Approves Cruz Plan to Protect Domestic Military Bases from Future Cuts
The massive Pentagon spending measure has passed the House and now is winding its way through the Senate, but not without Texas Sen. Ted Cruz getting involved in the mix.
The freshman Republican from Houston succeeded in amending the bill — formally called the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) — to ensure that domestic military installations are prioritized over foreign ones during any future Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC).
Cruz’s amendment, which would require the Department of Defense to fully review overseas military bases before closing bases in the United States, sailed through the Senate Armed Services Committee and is now part of the legislation as it heads to the Senate floor.
Cruz released the following statement on Monday:
“It is essential that we ensure our nation’s spending on military bases is prioritized appropriately. We need to decrease our overseas footprint. With multiple reports in the last year finding rising costs and a questionable use of taxpayer spending on overseas military bases, we should scrutinize that spending before considering any actions that will impact our domestic installations, many of which have undergone significant updates and improvements in recent years. This is important not only to the hundreds of thousands of troops serving on Texas bases, but also to service men and women across the nation.”
Texas is home to 14 major military bases and dozens of National Guard and Reserve bases. The Cruz amendment would help minimize the impact of base closures on members of the military serving in Texas and in the United States.
Rep. John Culberson, chairman of the House Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, supports the amendment and ensured that the bill would allow for responsible spending:
“Sen. Cruz and I agree on the need to decrease our overseas footprint. As Chairman of the House Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Subcommittee, I included language in the fiscal year 2014 appropriations bill that prohibits funding for construction of new installations overseas without prior approval from both the House and Senate. Our resources are limited—we should allocate them in a fiscally responsible manner that ensures the safety of our country and our men and women in uniform.”
On top of the amendment to review foreign military bases, Sen. Cruz also introduced two amendments to the NDAA to protect religious liberties of military service members. Both amendments passed in the Senate Armed Services Committee last week as well.
If adopted into law, the two amendments would help prevent discrimination against individuals in the military who express their religious faith appropriately. The amendment would also instruct the Defense Department Inspector General to investigate reports of religious discrimination and would mandate an anonymous survey to determine whether the Pentagon is preventing chaplains from doing their job.
With high regard for the freedom of individuals to express their beliefs, Cruz made this statement regarding the amendments to prevent religious discrimination:
“Freedom of religious expression is vital to our military culture, and I am deeply concerned by recent reports that servicemen and women have been prevented from exercising this fundamental Constitutional right. No soldier should fear a court martial for expressing his or her faith or made to fear negative reprisals for reporting threats to their freedom to worship God. The men and women of the military risk their lives every day to protect our Constitutional rights, and they should not be forced to surrender their religious liberty to do so.”