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It wasn't enough for lawmakers to refuse approval of additional rounds of base closings; they have voted to stop the Pentagon from spending any money on even considering the idea.
The House Armed Services Committee, which omitted the Pentagon's request to authorize two more rounds of base closings, voted 44-18 on Wednesday to add a provision, proposed by Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., to the 2013 defense authorization bill that would specifically bar spending any money next year "to propose, plan for or execute" the base closing and realignment process.
Wittman said the five previous rounds of base closing have shown there are upfront costs in the process, which would come at a time of declining defense budgets. Base closings, he said, "could cost billions of dollars and thousands of jobs."
There was never any doubt that in an election year the committee would block base closings, but Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, the committee's ranking Democrat, said the Wittman restriction goes too far. "It prevents them from even looking at and talking about what they might do," he said.
Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., a Marine Corps veteran, said he also thought the bill went too far. "I spent a lot of time in the Pentagon planning for all kinds of contingencies," he said.
Defense officials wanted to have base closing and realignment commissions in 2013 and 2015.
There is no word yet about what the Senate Armed Services Committee might do in its version of the 2013 defense budget, but opposition among House committee members is so strong that even if the Senate bill were to include permission for the new commissions, it seems unlikely that members of the House committee would agree to include it in a final compromise bill.