U.S. Representatives defend Missouri military bases
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U.S. Representatives defend Missouri military bases

Date: April 4, 2012
By: Mark Hodges
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri Congress members Vicky Hartzler, Blaine Luetkemeyer and Todd Akin visited the state Capitol on Wednesday to discuss the future of Missouri's military bases.

They spoke about the possibility for a new round of Base Realignment and Closures and made clear they didn't want the process to take place.

The BRAC process under the federal government would evaluate the costs of Missouri's military bases and find ways to save money, possibly closing some of the bases. That evaluation started nationwide in 2005.

Hartzler said the BRAC process would be expensive and would end up costing money rather than saving money in the near future. Hartzler's district includes Whiteman Air Force Base and Fort Leonard Wood. Senator Claire McCaskill also opposed the BRAC process.

All four have publicly opposed BRAC evaluation of Missouri's military bases.

The costs of bases in Pleasant Hill and Belton are already under evaluation by the federal government.

But Vietnam veteran Lynn Lowder said Missouri's military bases are valuable and they need to be protected.

"The state of Missouri benefits immensely from having those installations, both in terms of overall credibility, the importance of the Defense Department for both of these facilities and of course all the ancillary things that come with that such as revenue, the community dollars, all that," Lowder said.

Senator Roy Blunt, however, has publicly supported the idea of a new BRAC process. With Missouri consistently ranking in the top five states bringing in federal defense dollars, Blunt has said it is important to take a look at where the money is going.

Missouri received more than $15 billion in national defense funding in 2009, compared to $10 billion going to its highest-paid neighbor, Kentucky.

The BRAC process would evaluate where that money is going and why Missouri receives more than surrounding states.

However, with such a strong opposition from Missouri's representatives in Congress, future evaluation of Missouri's military bases through BRAC remains in question.

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