The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Knollenberg). Pursuant to House Resolution 648 and rule XVIII, the Chair declares the House in the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union for the further consideration of the bill, H.R. 4200.
IN THE COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Accordingly, the House resolved itself into the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union for the further consideration of the bill (H.R. 4200) to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2005 for military activities of the Department of Defense, to prescribe military personnel strengths for fiscal year 2005, and for other purposes, with Mr. Upton (Chairman pro tempore) in the chair.
The Clerk read the title of the bill.
The CHAIRMAN pro tempore. When the Committee of the Whole rose earlier today, a request for a recorded vote on amendment No. 25 printed in House Report 108-499, offered by the gentleman from Kansas (Mr. Ryun), had been postponed.
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Mr. BACA. Mr. Chairman, while I do have concerns with this bill, I rise to voice my support for H.R. 4200, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005. We need to do everything we can to make our armed forces as effective as possible. That's why I support the 2-year delay for the next BRAC round.
California has seen 29 bases close. In the Inland Empire, George and Norton Air Force Bases have been closed. And March Air Force Base was reduced to a reserve base. This cost an estimated 37,000 jobs and $3.9 billion in economic activity. That is 39 times the size of the San Bernardino city budget. That's real money that could have helped our citizens.
The 22,000 citizens of Barstow are worried that the Nebo Marine Corp Logistics Base and Yermo Annex will close. It is the city's second largest employer. What will happen when it closes?
When Norton Air Force Base closed in a previous BRAC round, it devastated my district. We lost 10,000 military and civilian personnel. And thousands more lost their job off the base. We have never been able to replace those jobs. It's not only communities that will be affected. Base closings will affect our troops and their families. It will set the military on a course of instability. All in order to save a few bucks.
Our troops in Iraq should not have to worry whether their families will be moved to another city or another state. They have better things to worry about. Because of these reasons I support the suspension of BRAC.
H.R. 4200 is far from a perfect bill. But it helps to fix the problems the Administration has not dealt with. It makes the military more effective and it protects our communities and troops.
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