By Jonathan D. Salant
June 4, 2015
The U.S. Senate on Thursday will be debating legislation that would protect Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst from being shut down.
The Senate version of the annual defense policy bill includes a provision banning a new round of military base closings. A similar prohibition is in the House version. President Obama had proposed a new base realignment and closing process, known as BRAC, in his budget proposal for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, but lawmakers disagreed.
Not only would states lose the positions on the base itself, but also jobs in related businesses that spring up around military facilities to serve the troops or provide support, defense lobbyist Michael Herson said.
“BRAC is a jobs killer,” said Herson, president of American Defense International. “They don’t want bases in their districts or states to close. At a time when the economy is still very shaky, it’s not politically tenable to support BRAC.”
Obama has threatened to veto the legislation. In a memo to Congress, the White House Office of Management and Budget cited several reasons, including congressional opposition to a new round of base closings that would allow the Pentagon “to properly align the military’s infrastructure with the needs of its evolving force” and “reduce wasteful overhead.”
New Jersey lawmakers had expressed concern that the joint base, which Obama visited last December, would be on the Pentagon’s target list. Freshman Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-3rd Dist.) sought a seat on the House Armed Services Committeeto be in a position to protect the facility.
MacArthur and another New Jersey freshman on the committee, Rep. Donald Norcross (D-1st Dist.) won approval of a provision in the House version of the defense policy bill that would prevent the Pentagon from moving or retiring any of the KC-10 refueling tanker planes stationed at the joint base.
“I’m thrilled to see that the Senate agrees with us in the House — shuttering installations like Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst would cost too much, not save enough, ruin local economies, and erode our military readiness,” MacArthur said. “Both chambers will now put forward a defense bill that supports our military and prepares us to meet the changing challenges around the world — all while spending taxpayer dollars efficiently.”