House Lawmakers: More BRAC Just Too Costly

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday once again urged Congress to support two more rounds of BRAC during his second trip to Capitol Hill in two days to discuss the Pentagon’s Fiscal 2013 budget request. Once again, House lawmakers didn’t bite, just as their Senate counterparts were lukewarm to the idea on the previous day. The controversial topic was raised 31 times during Wednesday’s House Armed Services Committee hearing. “There’s obviously no wild enthusiasm in the Congress for additional BRAC rounds,” said Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.). He added, “Every one of those facilities is in somebody’s district and it might be yours that gets gored. And secondly, we really don’t save any money in the short term because of the cleanup.” Panetta said he realizes that “BRAC costs a hell of a lot of money,” but said it’s “the only effective way to try to achieve needed infrastructure savings” necessary “in the long run.” BRAC 2005 is estimated to have cost the Defense Department some $39 billion to execute, and lawmakers bemoaned the fact that no savings will come from it before 2018, citing the Government Accountability Office. The Pentagon is expected to present its BRAC proposal to Congress next month, said Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.). (Panetta’s prepared statement) (Dempsey’s written testimony)