Senate passes Tester-Hutchison measure to reassess overseas bases

Senators join forces to save money and strengthen U.S. military

(U.S. SENATE) – The Senate today approved a bipartisan provision from Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) to save taxpayers money by reassessing America’s overseas military bases. The Tester-Hutchison amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act calls for an independent organization to review the military’s overseas basing needs and their associated costs as a first step toward closing obsolete facilities.

Both Senators hailed amendment passage, calling the review an important, bipartisan step to cut spending and cut the deficit.

“Given our budget outlook, we have a responsibility to look for savings across our government,” Tester said. “We need to be smart, and we need to work together. Our time has come to look at overseas bases and do things that will enhance our opportunities to fight the War on Terror while saving taxpayer dollars over the short-term and the long haul.”

“The military installations located here in the United States provide our forces with the ability to train and deploy better than many installations abroad, and at a much lower cost to the taxpayer, which helps cut the nation’s deficit,” Hutchison said. “Equally important, by bringing home some of our military capabilities, we will create more jobs in American military construction and do so without sacrificing the security needs of U.S. forces and the American people.”

Tester and Hutchison noted that closing unnecessary overseas bases will allow the U.S. to strengthen its military by focusing on current national security objectives. Additionally, they believe that decisions about overseas bases haven’t kept pace with the military’s advanced capabilities.

Tester and Hutchison first teamed up to find savings in military spending months ago. In addition to pushing for their study of overseas bases, the two in October called on Senate leaders to cut wasteful spending on overseas military construction projects. 

The two Senators have also worked independently on the basing issue. 

Tester asked the Defense Department in May to consider closing a number of Cold War-era military bases and installations on foreign soil – saving taxpayers billions of dollars. In his letter to then-Defense Secretary Gates, Tester noted that the United States still operates 268 military installations in Germany and 124 in Japan.

Additionally, Hutchison was successful in including language in the Military Construction Appropriation bill prohibiting funds being used in Fiscal Year 2012 to construct a permanent Africa Command headquarters outside of the United States until the Secretary of Defense provides the congressional defense committees with an analysis of all military construction costs associated with establishing a permanent location overseas versus in the United States. 

Hutchison also secured language prohibiting military construction funds being used in Grafenwoehr and Baumholder, Germany until the Secretary of Defense provides to Congress a report identifying the brigade combat team to be withdrawn in 2015, an estimate of costs associated with keeping this brigade in Germany, and an identification of the best installations in the United States to base this brigade combat team

Text of Tester’s and Hutchison’s amendment is available online HERE.

Video from Tester’s recent remarks on cutting spending by reassessing overseas bases is available online HERE.