Base closure legislation expected before August recess

The Defense Department expects to have legislation authorizing more rounds of military base closures to Congress before their August recess, officials said last week. Congress leaves Aug. 4 and reconvenes after Labor Day. The legislation will be based on past laws governing the process, but will include some changes, Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. Craig Quigley said at a news conference Thursday. "I think you will not see a complete replacement of the existing legislation," Quigley said. "But by the same token, we are looking to ensure that the existing legislation is best-suited to align infrastructure with the force structure as we best see it." Under existing Base Realignment and Closure laws, a commission chooses the installations that will be closed or realigned. The President can accept or reject the entire list. Congress then must accept the list or reject it. Quigley said there is no question that the Defense Department has more infrastructure--up to 25 percent more, Pentagon officials have said--than it needs to support current force structure. Infrastructure "needs to be no more, no less than you need to support that force structure," he said. Former Defense Secretary William S. Cohen tried to get Congress to agree to additional rounds of base closures, but was unsuccessful. The last round of base closures was in 1995. Defense officials forecast that the three rounds of closures since 1988 would generate $25 billion in savings through fiscal 2003.
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