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Public Statements

Military Quality of Life and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, 2006

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


MILITARY QUALITY OF LIFE AND VETERANS AFFAIRS APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2006 -- (House of Representatives - May 26, 2005)

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Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Chairman, I just wanted to rise in support of the Jones amendment. I think the gentlewoman is right on point here. I know for my base, in this case Fort Monmouth, we have not received a lot of the data, most of the data upon which the Pentagon's recommendations were made. I think that was quite clear if you listen to the hearings that were held last week by the BRAC. Many of the commissioners at that time indicated they did not have the background data upon which the Pentagon's recommendations were made.

I think this is just another indication of the fact that we have not been able to proceed with this BRAC round in the way we have in the past. I have actually been through three other BRAC rounds since I have been in the Congress; and just from the questioning that occurred last week at the BRAC hearings from the commissioners, it was clear this is not the time to have a BRAC round.

We are in the middle of a war, both in Iraq and in Afghanistan. Many of the commissioners asked questions about the war and the military value because they frankly felt that in a general sense questions had not been answered by the Pentagon, and the Pentagon was not able to answer the questions properly about how this BRAC round was supposed to proceed in the context of an ongoing war.

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Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

I just wanted to comment on what the gentlewoman from South Dakota (Ms. Herseth) said. In the last BRAC round in 1995, we had all of the information to back up the Pentagon's recommendations within a few days. It is almost 2 weeks now since the base closure list came out. I think it was the Friday before last.

As the gentlewoman mentioned, we are still lacking most of the background information for these recommendations.

For example, in the case of Fort Monmouth, which is represented by me and the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Holt), the recommendation says that to close Fort Monmouth and move it would cost $822 million and that over the next 6 years, annually, there would be a savings of about $143 million.

We do not have the background information that the Pentagon used to make those kinds of number-crunching decisions. The number-crunchers have not given us that kind of information. How are we supposed to prepare for a site visit next week, or regional hearings in early July, without having that information?

It is simply inappropriate, and it certainly has not been the case in the past. I have been through three previous BRAC rounds, and that was never the case. That is why the Jones amendment is so important. And particularly when the gentlewoman from Ohio (Mrs. Jones) references military value, this is all about military value.

In the case of Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, we are an electronics and communications command for the Army. We basically back up the soldier in the field with equipment that is electronic or related communications. Our point that we have been trying to make is if you close Fort Monmouth over the next few years, that commander in the field who might need some communications or electronics equipment in the next few days or the next few weeks will not have access to it because Fort Monmouth is in the process of moving and people will not be available to do what is necessary for the soldier in the field.

How can the Pentagon make recommendations and not take that into mind? We have no indication of how they address that issue because we do not have the backup data. That is why this amendment is important. I urge my colleagues on a bipartisan basis to support it.

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