Too Bad It’s Not Going to Happen

Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces panel, said on Monday he doubts “very little, if any” of the ideas discussed that day during a bipartisan panel of think tank representatives on fixing the Pentagon’s budget imbalances would actually be implemented. That’s because too many members of the congressional defense oversight committees hail from constituencies with a strong defense presence, said Cooper during the June 3 event on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers “are more concerned with the parochial rather than the national level,” he said. However, he commended the bipartisan effort. During the discussion, the panelists advocated for another round of BRAC. Mackenzie Eaglen of the American Enterprise Institute said the Defense Department has been shedding overseas infrastructure over the last few years, but Congress refuses to acknowledge these efforts. “I’m concerned Congress is ignoring the Pentagon’s base closures abroad in an attempt to stall domestic closures,” she said. The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments’ Todd Harrison said DOD needs to rethink its compensation system, noting that about half of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans would leave the military after five years, meaning they will not even qualify for costly yet coveted military retirement benefits. (Link to video of the Capitol Hill event)