Thursday, August 18, 2005

Hastert Against SUBASE Closure; EB Says Jobs Will Be Lost If Closure Goes Through

Please note: This post has been heavily updated to add detail missing from the original version. - Alex

In the car coming home today, WICC 600 AM (Bridgeport, CT) reported that House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) is planning to announce that he is against the proposed closure of SUBASE New London as part of the current round BRAC closures.

The Hartford Courant has details:
WASHINGTON -- House Speaker Dennis Hastert tried to give the Naval Submarine Base at Groton a last-minute boost today, urging the base closing commission to "strongly consider the case made by Team Connecticut" against closing the facility.

In a two-page letter to Base Closure and Realignment Commission Chairman Anthony J. Principi, the speaker stressed the team's argument that no money would be saved by closing the 90-year-old base.
Hastert was quick to point out that the Navy has invested large amounts of money in the facility over the last several years. This week's release of a GAO report that supports the notion that cost savings estimates are exaggerated can only serve to bolster his argument.
In addition, Hastert wrote, "Closing SUBASE New London would eliminate a center of excellence for undersea warfare in which Congress has invested hundreds of millions of dollars over the last decade."

Since becoming speaker in 1999, he said, "I have personally seen Congress invest more than $120 million into the New London Navy base. Our nation's taxpayers would be ill-served if these investments in our national security are wasted."
Hastert finished his letter with a warning that closing the base is really a lose-lose proposition, where security is weakened and no real cost savings would be realized.
He also mentioned what is likely to be the topic that's most important to the nine BRAC members: how the closing would affect national security.

"Having listened carefully to Team Connecticut's arguments," Hastert said, "I firmly believe that including Naval Submarine Base New London in the 2005 BRAC round would weaken our homeland and national security while providing no savings to our nation's taxpayers.

"I urge you to remove New London from the BRAC closure list at your earliest opportunity," he concluded.
I'm happy to see Hastert step up on behalf of the base and the state of Connecticut. This action throws some water on the idea floated by some that the base closure is some sort of payback move against a blue state. National Security affects all states, red and blue, and hastert is right to speak up this way if he fears that closure will weaken the nation.

On a local level, Connecticut residents should be happy to see this show of support as well. Closure of the SUBASE would devastate the regional economy around New London, as the catalyst that drives many local businesses would go away. Somehow or another, the task of getting that area back on its feet post-closure would fall on the shoulder of the Connecticut taxpayers (of which I am one), who are taxed to death as it is.

Based on what I have seen from Team Connecticut, the reasons for keeping the base running are very clear and compelling. I get the impression that they have probably won over some commissioners with their presentations. Soon enough, we'll know if they turned enough of them over to their side.

***

WICC also reported that the head of Electric Boat is on record as saying that should SUBASE New London close, it is inevitable that some EB jobs are going to move away with the submarines. Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell confirmed the likelihood this, saying that out of necessity, a number of submarine maintenance-related jobs will have to migrate to wherever the boats end up going.

Rell was quick that EB would still play a very significat role in the state even if the base is closed. It would still continue to build submarines.

(Cross-posted at The Noonz Wire and Say Anything)

3 Comments:

At 10:13 AM, Blogger jeff said...

Since we have a local base on the closure list (Portland (OR) Airbase), my father-in-law has been watching this carefully. He has gotten the impression that the BRAC commission isn't happy with the closure list they got from the Pentagon.

 
At 10:18 AM, Blogger PigBoatSailor said...

Alex-

Great post! I have been slacking on my BRAC news, but you seem to have everything covered. Thanks!

--PBS

 
At 11:04 AM, Blogger Alex Nunez said...

Jeff, I agree. The commissioners have seemed very interested in what the various groups defending bases have had to say. I don't know how it's been on OR, but the commission has had several members visit the subase on an individual basis. Many of the visits have run longer than planned. I tend to see that as a good thing. At the very least it shows just how seriously they are taking their jobs.

PBS, thanks! I had slacked off a while and got the inspiration to follow-up on BRAC after hearing the Hastert report.

 

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