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Disapproving the Recommendations of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. LaHOOD. Mr. Chairman, I believe I have the right to close. I have no other speakers, and if these gentlemen are ready, when they finish, I will close.

The Acting CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bishop of Utah). The Chair will recognize for closing speeches in reverse order of opening. It will be the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Skelton), the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. LaHood), and the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Hefley).

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Skelton).

Mr. SKELTON. Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. LaHOOD. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself whatever time I have remaining.

Mr. Chairman, let me just pick up on a couple of the people that have spoken. I want to pick up on a point that Mr. DeLay made. He has an Air Guard unit returning to Ellington Air Force Base to a slap in the face, to essentially being told, you have done great work, thanks for what you did in Iraq; oh, by the way, we are closing your base. Now, what kind of a message is that? That was my point earlier on in my opening statement. We owe it to the people.

I ask Members to consider this: To the people who are doing the hard work in Iraq, the people that did the hard work in Afghanistan, this is not the way to say to them, job well done. It is not the way to say to them, you did a great job in standing up for democracy in Afghanistan and doing the hard work in Iraq. And, oh, by the way, there is no base to come back to, because your unit is being eliminated. Is that the message we want to send to the people who do the hard work, to the 130,000, 140,000 people now serving in Iraq, the citizen soldiers that have left their jobs and their families and left their communities? I do not think so.

The point that Mr. Taylor made, why not give Congress the responsibility, the Armed Services Committee the responsibility; why lay it off on somebody else? We should not be doing that. This is our responsibility. That is why we are elected, to make these decisions.

The report is flawed. You can say all you want about the great work that was done. I know people that serve on the base closing commission, and I know they spend a lot of time, but this work is flawed. This is a flawed report. This is our opportunity in the House to speak up and speak out. The Defense Department has had their say. The President had his say. The BRAC Commission had their say. Now it is the House's turn to say to the hard-working citizen soldiers, we appreciate your work, we are going to stand with you, we are going to allow these bases to remain open, we are going to vote for the resolution that says that this BRAC should not stand, that these recommendations should not stand. That is what the House should be saying today. I hope the majority of Members will do that.

I mentioned earlier, there is a law on the books, passed by Congress, that says that you cannot close air and Guard bases unless you get the authority from the Governors. We even had a report from one of the people that was working for BRAC that this law has standing. The BRAC ignored this. The Defense Department has ignored us on this. We should not be doing this. This is the wrong message. This is the wrong idea to send to our country, to send to the people who are doing the work and continue to do the work.

As I said earlier, I have supported the President and this administration and the Secretary of Defense, who is a friend of mine from Illinois, in everything they have wanted to do in Afghanistan and Iraq. I know a lot of Members have. The majority of the membership of this House has. Now we ought to say to them, we do not agree with your recommendations. We do not agree that we should be realigning bases, turning people away, turning out bases and shutting down bases where the good work has been done.

So based on that argument, based on the flawed BRAC report, based on a law that is on the books, a Federal law that says you cannot close these air and Guard bases without the authority of the Governor, I ask Members to speak up today, to be a voice for the people, to be a voice for the military, to be a voice that says, this BRAC is not right, and I urge Members to vote for the resolution.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.


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