WASHINGTON -- Lawmakers are stepping up efforts to stop a federal commission from recommending military laboratory cuts in Maryland and other states.
Numerous lawmakers from Maryland and other states testified yesterday before the Base Closure and Realignment Commission.
More than 3,000 military and civilian workers in Maryland will lose their jobs or be forced to relocate if six labs are closed or curtailed, according to defense and congressional officials.
The labs are on a Pentagon closure list given to the commission, which will make recommendations to the president by July 1. Congress ultimately will vote to accept or reject in its entirety the final list approved by the president.
What disturbs Maryland lawmakers is the Pentagon's decision to include labs and engineering facilities in its list of military bases it wants to close. The Pentagon seeks to close 43 bases and consolidate or cut back 28 others.
The Marylanders say the base closure commission should defer to a separate lab commission, which is not scheduled to report until September.
Base closure commission chairman James A. Courter has said the panel has the legal authority to include labs in its review of bases to be closed or consolidated.
Courter says the commission will decide soon whether to act on labs.
Meanwhile, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., and Maryland Rep. Tom McMillen, D-4th, have introduced legislation that would delay lab closings until after the lab commission acts.
And other lawmakers have indicated willingness to take other steps through the appropriations process to block cuts if the lab commission is not permitted to do its work.
McMillen, Mikulski, Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, D-Md., Maryland Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest, R-1st, and other state lawmakers spoke and submitted documents to the commission about the affected labs and engineering centers.
The Naval Electronics Systems Engineering Activity in St. Inigoes, St. Mary's County, Md., is scheduled to be closed. The facility employs 1,055.
The Maryland labs up for realignment are the Naval Surface Warfare Center Detachment in White Oak, the Navy's David Taylor Research Center Detachment in Annapolis, the Naval Ordnance Station in Indian Head and the Army's Fort Detrick in Frederick and Harry Diamond Laboratories in Adelphi.