STATEMENTS ON INTRODUCED BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS -- (Senate - May 18, 2005)
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
By Mr. THUNE (for himself and Mrs. CLINTON):
S. 1065. A bill to amend title 10, United States Code, to extend child care eligibility for children of members of the Armed Forces who die in the line of duty; to the Committee on Armed Services.
Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, today I rise with my distinguished colleague from New York, Senator CLINTON, to introduce legislation that will provide a surviving spouse with two years of child care eligibility on any military instillation or Federal facility with a child care center. The legislation was inspired by our work on the Senate Armed Services Committee. In February the committee held an important hearing on improving survivor benefits and the government's role in helping survivors cope with the loss of a loved one. All too often surviving spouses are forced to make difficult, life changing decisions alone. Both Senator CLINTON and I are determined to provide as much help as possible to those who must bear the burden of loss, particularly those with young children. By providing two years of child care eligibility, our goal is to ensure that a surviving spouse has the time and tools necessary to make a healthy adjustment to life after the servicemember's death. Many decisions face survivors, most importantly, how to make a living. Often that means having to re-enter the work force after years of being a working mother. The question of how to adequately care for young children while trying to find employment or restart a career should not be an issue. Further, we have expanded this eligibility to include access to child care centers in other Federal facilities. This will aide surviving spouses with children if they are in the process of relocating to an area of the country without a military base nearby, but in the proximity of a local Federal building. I am honored that Senator CLINTON is working with me on this legislation and I encourage my colleagues to support this important measure.
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
By Mr. THUNE (for himself, Ms. SNOWE, Mr. BINGAMAN, Ms. COLLINS, Mr. DOMENICI, Mr. GREGG, Mr. JOHNSON, Mr. LOTT, Ms. MURKOWSKI, Mr. STEVENS, and Mr. SUNUNU):
S. 1075. A bill to postpone the 2005 round of defense base closure and realignment; to the Committee on Armed Services.
Mr. THUNE. Mr. President, I rise today to introduce a bill that would delay the implementation of the 2005 round of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment report issued by the Department of Defense on May 13, 2005. The bill would postpone the execution of any decisions recommended in the report until certain anticipated events, having potentially large or unforeseen implications for our military force structure, have occurred, and both the department and Congress have had a chance to fully study the effects such events will have on our base requirements.
The bill identifies three principal actions that must occur before implementation of BRAC 2005. First, there must be a complete analysis and consideration of the recommendations of the Commission on Review of Overseas Military Structures. The overseas base commission has itself called upon the Department of Defense to ``slow down and take a breath'' before moving forward on basing decisions without knowing exactly where units will be returned and if those installations are prepared or equipped to support units that will return from garrisons in Europe, consisting of approximately 70,000 personnel.
Second, BRAC should not occur while this country is engaged in a major war and rotational deployments are still ongoing. We have seen enough disruption of both military and civilian institutions due to the logistical strain brought about by these constant rotations of units and personnel to
Iraq and Afghanistan without, at the same time, initiating numerous base closures and the multiple transfer of units and missions from base to base. This is simply too much to ask of our military, our communities and the families of our servicemen and women, already stretched and over-taxed. And frankly, our efforts right now must be devoted to winning the global war on terrorism, not packing up and moving units around the country.
Our bill would delay implementation of BRAC until the Secretary of Defense determines that substantially all major combat units and assets have been returned from deployment in the Iraq theater of operations, whenever that might occur.
Third, to review or implement the BRAC recommendations without having the benefit of either the Commission or Congress studying the Quadrennial Defense Review, due in 2006, and its long-term planning recommendations seems counter-intuitive and completely out of logical sequence. Therefore, the bill requires that Congress receive the QDR and have an opportunity to study its planning recommendations as one of the conditions before implementing BRAC 2005.
Fourth and Fifth: BRAC should not go forward until the implementation and development by the Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security of the National Maritime Security Strategy; and the completion and implementation of Secretary of Defense's Homeland Defense and Civil Support Directive--only now being drafted. These two planning strategies should be key considerations before beginning any BRAC process.
Finally, once all these conditions have been met, the Secretary of Defense must submit to Congress, not later than one year after the occurrence of the last of these conditions, a report that assesses the relevant factors and recommendations identified by the Commission on Review of Overseas Base Structure; the return of our thousands of troops deployed in overseas garrisons that will return to domestic bases because of either overseas base reduction or the end of our deployments in the war; and, any relevant factors identified by the QDR that would impact, modify, negate or open to reconsideration any of the recommendations submitted by the Secretary of Defense for BRAC 2005.
This proposed delay only seems logical and fair. There is no need to rush into decisions, that in a few years from now, could turn out to be colossal mistakes. We can't afford to go back and rebuild installations or relocate high-cost support infrastructure at various points in this country once those installations have been closed or stripped of their valuable capacity to support critical missions. I, therefore, introduce this legislation today and call upon my colleagues to join us in supporting its passage.
I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the RECORD.
There being no objection, the bill was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:
BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT