Lab-closings fight is promised Members of Congress battle the "hit list."

April 19, 1991|By Stacey Evers | Stacey Evers,States News Service

WASHINGTON -- Members of Congress who represent military laboratories on a Pentagon "hit list" will meet next week to map out their strategy to purge the facilities from the list, Rep. Tom McMillen of Maryland reports.

McMillen, D-4th, whose districts includes the David Taylor Research Center in Annapolis, had vowed for months to fight the Defense Department if it included military labs on its list of proposed military bases to be closed or consolidated.

Defense Secretary Richard Cheney recommended a week ago that 71 bases, including six in Maryland, be closed or merged with other installations. The Annapolis lab is scheduled to lose more than 550 jobs.

Six of Maryland's eight congressional representatives met at a closed luncheon yesterday to talk about the impact that Cheney's recommendations -- which must be approved by a base closure commission, President Bush and Congress -- could have on the state.

McMillen said later that the lawmakers spoke only in general terms, but intend to work together to keep laboratories off the list. Reps. Constance Morella, R-8th, and Benjamin Cardin, D-3rd, said they agree with McMillen that the list should be limited to non-lab facilities.

Congress has authorized a special commission to study how the military should consolidate its laboratories. That commission is scheduled to release its findings in September, whereas the base closure commission must turn over its comments to Bush by July 1.

Morella planned to attend a briefing today at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in White Oak, which could lose as many as 1,200 employees. McMillen said he is scheduled to go to the Taylor Center on Monday.

Cardin said that, overall, the base closure proposals were "not done in a political way. It was done in an effort to downsize. Generally, I'm pleased with the manner in which the administration so far has handled the base closure."

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