The Pentagon has shortened its base closure list under pressure to minimize high upfront costs, Defense Secretary William Perry said Monday, but the Long Beach Naval Shipyard apparently has not escaped the budget ax.
Military and congressional sources indicated that the closure list would include the shipyard, with a loss of about 3,100 jobs, and the Oakland Army Base, where more than 2,000 jobs will be lost.
But after meeting Monday with Deputy Defense Secretary John Deutch, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said the Oakland base had been spared.
“It is my understanding that Oakland Army Base is off the list, and that’s very good news,” Feinstein said.
Late Monday afternoon, Perry signed the documents containing his recommendations to the Base Closure and Realignment Commission.
The Clinton Administration, making final preparations for issuing the list today, ran into the iron logic of base closings: The savings come years down the road; in the short term, base closings cost money.
“It is a heavy price we are paying,” Perry said during a question-and-answer session at an American Legion meeting in Washington on Monday. “The good news is that by 1999, we will be saving $4 billion not only that year but every year thereafter as a result of closures.”
Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), chairman of the House Republican Caucus, said the Administration apparently was satisfied to keep more military overhead than it needs.
“We still have a tremendous number of bases in our country that are no longer necessary or needed for national security,” Boehner said. “As painful as it is for the communities in which those bases are located, we ought to bite the bullet.”
After an initial round of base shutdowns in 1988, a law drafted by current House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) led to closure rounds in 1991, 1993 and this year. The law has no provision for further rounds.
“We ought to look toward extending it,” Boehner said.
Perry has said he would like to make another round of closures in 1997 but thinks Congress would oppose the idea.
Information filtering out of the Pentagon to federal, state, and local officials indicates that this year’s may be the shortest closure list yet. The Pentagon recommendations must be approved by an independent Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission and then accepted or rejected in their entirety by Congress and the President.