McCaskill Says Base Closures Not Answer to Budget Reductions
Contact Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (April 9, 2012) – As the federal government explores ways to reduce spending, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., today said she opposes base restructuring and closure at home as a way to reduce government spending. She shared her thoughts with a small group of about 30 people from the Warrensburg, University of Central Missouri and Whiteman Air Force Base communities today who attended an invitation-only event, which the senator and her staff hosted at UCM. McCaskill’s brief stop at UCM took place while she was making her “Fighting for Fairness Tour,” which also took her to Sedalia and Kansas City.
At left, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., meets with University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, and Whiteman Air Force Base representatives to discuss political issues that impact the area during a visit to UCM April 9. Seated near her at the front of the Kitterman Room are, left to right, Glen Nelson, president of the WAFB Community Council; Charles Ambrose, university president; and Robert Welling, Warrensburg attorney.
Elected to federal office in in 2006, McCaskill chairs the Senate Armed Forces Committee’s Subcommittee on Military Readiness and Management Support. She noted that reductions in military bases are based on recommendations by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC), which Congress can vote down by resolution. Congress doesn’t, however, have direct control over which bases are closed or reduced.
McCaskill pointed out that savings which were supposed to be generated by BRAC in 2005 have not been realized, and she would not be willing to support another BRAC process being carried out in 2013. The last time base closings and realignments were announced nationally, an Air National Guard unit in St. Louis was closed and staff were reduced at military offices in St. Louis and Kansas City, which cost Missouri hundreds of jobs.
“We will not realize any savings from the program (BRAC) until 2018. That’s not a very good report card,” McCaskill said.“We need to look at BRAC and find out why it takes so much time to realize savings.”
Citing the value of the B-2 program and drone aircraft, which have been instrumental in the fight against terrorism in the Middle East, the senator she believes that “Whiteman Air Force Base is in good shape and will continue to be in good shape.” She praised the Warrensburg and university communities for partnering with the base to create strong base-community relationships.
During the question and answer session, McCaskill was asked about the possibility of reducing military benefits to veterans. She has been adamant about the need for the U.S. to “live up to its promise” to those who have fought for their country by providing them with the benefits they expected to receive as the result of their service.
“The promise that has been made to veterans reflects the character of our nation. To break those promises would be immoral,” she told the group.