04/05/05 — Sabotage: Senator won't allow BRAC to work as it was intended

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Sabotage: Senator won't allow BRAC to work as it was intended

Sen. Trent Lott just doesn’t get it. The idea is to keep politics out of the selection of military bases that should be closed. Lott seems unable to go along.

He is trying to throw a hammer into the BRAC machinery — BRAC being the nonpolitical process by which the bases are picked.

To voters in Mississippi, Lott might seem heroic. As Mississippi’s senior senator, he has worked hard to protect the bases in that state. That undoubtedly has won him a lot of votes and a bundle of campaign contributions. He apparently wants to ride that horse to the end of the trail.

Lott has used a parliamentary procedure to delay a vote on the Senate’s confirmation of President Bush’s nominee to be the chairman of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, Anthony Principi. He is also expected to try to delay the confirmation of the other eight nominees.

These nine people who make up the BRAC will get a list of proposed base closings from the Pentagon and will make recommendations to Congress and the president. Congress and the president then cannot pick and choose which bases will be closed; they must approve all or none.

States and communities that have bases are naturally concerned that their installations will be targeted for closing. Most, like Goldsboro and North Carolina, are doing all they can to make sure that nothing is done to make it unnecessarily difficult for the military to accomplish its missions at the bases.

But few if any politicians have gone as far as Lott to sabotage the selection process. It is as though he had doubts about whether Mississippi’s installations are really needed.

Published in Editorials on April 5, 2005 9:15 AM