WASHINGTON – A House Republican set the wheels in motion Tuesday to try to kill the Pentagon's proposal to close or downsize hundreds of U.S. military bases, a move that is largely symbolic and has little chance of succeeding.
Rep. Ray LaHood (search) of Illinois introduced a joint resolution in the House to reject the plan to restructure the U.S. network of military bases. It is the first effort to close bases since 1995.
LaHood said the base-closing commission and the Pentagon ignored a significant fact: The country is at war.
"Now is not the time to be closing bases around the country," he said. "Now we as a Congress have the opportunity, I think, to have our say."
President Bush (search) endorsed the commission report last week. It calls for closing 22 major military bases and reconfiguring another 33. Hundreds more from coast to coast also will be affected.
The president sent the report to Congress, where it will become law after 45 legislative days unless the House and Senate pass a joint resolution rejecting it.
LaHood, whose district includes a base in Springfield, Ill., that is to lose 15 National Guard (search) fighter jets, became the first lawmaker to introduce such a resolution.
The House overwhelmingly supports the fifth round of base restructuring, and Republican leaders — who also back the closures — control whether lawmakers vote on LaHood's measure.
"I'm going to encourage the speaker and the majority leader to let us have our prerogative, have a debate and see what happens," he said.
No lawmaker in the Senate has introduced a joint resolution. A GOP-led effort in the Senate to derail the plan fizzled last month after the commission reviewing the plan spared several bases in the home states of lawmakers who opposed it.