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Report: DOD may be able to bypass BRAC process to close bases

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A report outlining the potential for the Department of Defense to close installations without the Congressional Base Realignment and Closure process received major opposition Friday from Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh.

“That would not be a wise approach,” he said.

Defense news website Breakingdefense.com quoted House Armed Services Committee staffer Vickie Plunkett saying earlier this week that the military could close bases by following Section 2687 of Title 10 of the U.S. Code. She told the Association of the U.S. Army the statute “does give the services authority to do closures, and it only requires notification to Congress.”

Ms. Plunkett described such a move as “notification with time for Congress to act” before the closure is carried out. But, in her opinion, “Congress is basically dysfunctional right now.”

Mr. Owens said he would be surprised if the DOD planned such a cut, and that it would bring a swift response from Congress.

“Those folks want to maintain reasonable relations with the Hill, and I think they will discuss it with us,” he said.

However, were the Defense Department to move in such a fashion, he said Congress would have time to form a response, and multiple tools to stop the military’s actions. Among them is adding language to defense spending bills, which Mr. Owens said is “a tool that has been used a number of times,” which in this scenario would prohibit the use of funds for things like closing facilities.

The Army, which has been thwarted by Congress the past few years in its attempts to launch a new BRAC round, has again pushed for a new round starting as early as 2017. The last BRAC round took place in 2005, with other rounds in 1995, 1993, 1991 and 1989.

Mr. Owens reiterated that he would not give his support for another round of BRAC without knowing more specifics about the military’s planning going into the decision.

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