PROVIDENCE, R.I. — U.S. Sen. Jack Reed said he wants Congress to authorize a new round of military base closings.
The Rhode Island Democrat filed an amendment with Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain to the Senate’s defense authorization bill for fiscal 2018 on Monday to authorize a round of base closures and realignments, starting in 2019.
Reed said Rhode Island is well-positioned for a future round of base closings because the Navy’s facilities in Newport, Rhode Island, are essential for education and research. But elsewhere, he said, there are facilities that were designed for Cold War confrontations and buildings that are being maintained but not used.
Military installations are considered prized possessions in some congressional districts, so getting their colleagues to agree will be challenging.
“It could be voted down, but we are doing what we think is the right thing in the long run for the DOD,” Reed said Tuesday.
Reed said their approach for base closings addresses concerns with the 2005 round, such as the cost, and the Pentagon’s need to close excess installations so the money can be better spent. The estimated cost of implementing the closures would be capped at $5 billion, and the list of submitted recommendations would have to yield net-savings within seven years of completing the closures and realignments, according to the amendment.
Reed and McCain also proposed eliminating the base-closing commission and instead requiring the Department of Defense to submit its recommendations to Congress. The Government Accountability Office would review the list and Congress could amend it. McCain is the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Reed is the ranking member.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said that closing excess installations would save $10 billion over a five-year period.
The Trump administration wants a new round of military base closings to start in 2021. The Republican-led House rejected that request when it approved its version of the defense policy bill in July.