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Base Closings

Location: Washington, DC

BASE CLOSINGS -- (House of Representatives - September 20, 2005)

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the order of the House of January 4, 2005, the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. LaHood) is recognized during morning hour debates for 5 minutes.

Mr. LaHOOD. Mr. Speaker, I am here this noontime to introduce a resolution of disapproval regarding the base closing commission which I believe is a flawed document. I believe it is flawed because I think the base closing commission ignored some very, very significant information. But most importantly I think the base closing commission and those at the Defense Department who helped them make these recommendations ignore the fact that we are at war and has ignored the fact that the 130,000 men and women that are in Iraq fighting the good fight, winning the freedom and hope and opportunity for the people there, many of them come from bases around the country, they are citizen-soldiers, they are volunteers, they are people who have been well-trained and well-equipped and are doing a great job but they are people who come from bases, some of which have been recommended for closure by the base closing commission. I think that does fly in the face of what we believe is the idea of having a strong military, the idea of having a citizen-soldier, the idea of not having a draft because we have these bases that provide the kind of capability when these men and women are called upon to do the hard work as they did in Afghanistan. We see now in Afghanistan millions of people have gone to the polls and voted and they do have democracy there. The same will be true of Iraq very soon, thanks to the citizen-soldiers.

This report is flawed because it does not take into account a Federal law on the books that says that bases cannot be closed without the Governor of the State authorizing the closure of that base. The base closing commission ignored that law. They bypassed that law. I believe there now is in some courts in this country opinions that say that these bases should not be closed unless the Governor of that State agrees to that. But the base closing commission ignored that.

I think it is also important to note that through all of the deliberations and hearings and visits that took place, part of what was ignored is the impact that these bases have in certain parts of the country. They are very, very important, to the economies of local communities, to what they do for local communities, and this will be a terrible blow to many communities around the country. But I think the military aspect is probably the most important aspect that we really need to look at.

I am here today introducing this resolution of disapproval hoping that my colleagues as they have a chance to consider the recommendations that have now been forwarded from the President to the Congress, we now have a period of time to consider these, I hope Members will look at these recommendations, consider the terrible, terrible deficiency that are included in these recommendations and consider the impact that these recommendations will have on our military. Now is not the time to be closing bases around the country. Now is not the time to be eliminating men and women who have done the hard work that they have been asked to do, who have done the good work that they have been asked to do. This is the wrong time. The timing is wrong.

We now as a Congress have the opportunity, I think, to have our say. We have the opportunity to say, those of us that have stood with the President, that have stood with the military, that have made the votes to provide the money to make sure that our military have the kind of capability they have to win the peace and to win democracy in Afghanistan, to win the peace and to bring about democracy in Iraq are saying that this is not the time to be closing bases, Guard and Reserve bases and other bases around the country and emasculating the military. This is the wrong time.

I hope that our Members will look carefully at these recommendations and become a cosponsor of the resolution of disapproval that I have introduced today. I think when Members look at these recommendations they will see that they are flawed, they will see that this is not the right time, and I believe that when given the opportunity to really study these recommendations, Members will decide that this resolution of disapproval is the right thing to do and to send them back to the commission.

Mr. Speaker, I urge Members to cosponsor my resolution and to look at these recommendations and come to the same conclusion that I have come to.

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