For years, U.S. defense officials have asked lawmakers to give them permission to conduct a new round of base closures in 2017, saying the Pentagon could save billions by shedding empty facilities and unnecessary real estate.
But closing facilities could also mean money and job losses in lawmakers’ home districts. So each time the Pentagon has asked, Congress has responded the same way: No.
Yet U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat whose district includes El Paso and Fort Bliss, is among the few lawmakers who think it’s time for the Pentagon to launch another round of Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC.
“It is hugely unpopular in Congress because everyone runs a risk in a BRAC round of losing,” O’Rourke said. “Nobody wants to lose, but as a taxpayer, I don’t want to continue to subsidize bases and installations that are not performing.”
Historically, the Pentagon has launched a round of base closure and consolidation every 10 years. The last BRAC round was in 2005.