House rejects effort to stop base closings

Staff and wire reports

WASHINGTON — The House voted overwhelmingly Thursday to allow the first round of U.S. military base closures and consolidations in a decade, clearing the way for facilities across the country to start shutting their doors as early as next month.

The head of local Cannon Air Force Base advocate group said he was not relying on the House to veto the final BRAC report.

“We fully expected (this) to happen. It is just another step in the (BRAC) process that had to occur,” Committee of Fifty President Terry Moberly said.

Moberly said members of the committee did not want the list to be repealed since Cannon is spared from closure for the time being. “I don’t know that we would want to go through the whole process again.”

Moberly said he is looking forward to the passing of the BRAC report at the Senate and House.

“The Air Force has assured us that missions are being looked at (for Cannon) and that after the BRAC process is complete, we will see some movement and activity. We are anxiously awaiting for that to occur,” Moberly said.

Sen. Pete Domenici, R.-N.M., said in a press release, he was “disappointed that the BRAC process is cleared for completion.” However, he also said in the release that he remains “optimistic about the future of Cannon Air Force Base.”

In a 324-85 vote, the House refused to veto the final report of the 2005 base-closing commission, meaning the report seems all but certain to become law in mid-November. Targeted facilities then would have six years to close their doors and shift forces as required under the report.

The panel sent President Bush its final report in September. He signed off on it and sent it to Congress on Sept. 15. That began a 45-legislative day period for Congress to reject the report.

Congressional critics and many local officials fear the impact of base closures on their area economies — and on their political futures. They argue that the United States should not restructure military bases while the U.S. military is engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan.