State lobbies Pentagon over BRAC

December 22, 2007|By Matthew Hay Brown | Matthew Hay Brown,Sun reporter

WASHINGTON -- The state's congressional delegation is asking Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to spare Maryland when the Pentagon decides where to cut funds for base realignment projects next year.

In the omnibus spending bill approved this week by Congress, lawmakers met the funding level demanded by President Bush in part by cutting nearly $1 billion from the money he requested to carry out the recommendations of the Base Realignment and Closure commission.

It will be up to the Defense Department to decide which of the hundreds of projects nationwide might get less money.

In their letter yesterday, delegation members named "mission-critical" projects at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Fort Meade, Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head and Andrews Air Force Base. If these aren't fully funded now, they said, "it will be very difficult to complete implementation of the BRAC recommendations by 2011, as required by law."

The expansion of military facilities is expected to draw tens of thousands of new workers and pump billions of dollars into the state economy.

Congress cut the BRAC funding from $8.2 billion to $7.2 billion, or about 14 percent. Lawmakers from affected states will look to restore the money in the spring, when Bush is expected to seek more money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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