Breaking News: Holt and Pallone Fight Successfully to Change BRAC Criteria to Help Ft. Monmouth

May 20, 2004

Fort Monmouth, NJ

--- U.S. Reps. Rush D. Holt (NJ-12) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6) applauded a major victory tonight when the House of Representatives passed the fiscal year 2005 Defense Authorization bill. The bill included an amendment, offered by Rep. Heather Wilson of New Mexico, which would strengthen the case to keep open Ft. Monmouth and other bases and military labs that provide research, development, and testing for the military. The amendment would add a research and development criterion to the Pentagon's official criteria for choosing which military installations to retain in the 2005 BRAC process. Holt and Pallone both supported the amendment.

"This is a major victory for Ft. Monmouth. The new criterion will make it much harder for the military to close the Fort in the next BRAC round," said Rep. Rush Holt. "In effect, by changing the BRAC criteria Congress today is ordering the Pentagon to acknowledge the important contribution that Ft. Monmouth and other research and development facilities make to our military."

"Our military research and development labs play a vital role in protecting our soldiers, and it only makes sense that this role be recognized during the BRAC process," Pallone said. "The House today showed the Pentagon that the research and development taking place at Fort Monmouth and other labs cannot be ignored."

In January, Representatives Rush Holt, Frank Pallone, and a bipartisan group of 16 other members of Congress sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld expressing their concern that the draft Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) selection criteria for 2005 fail to address "either future military technology capabilities or the unpredictability of 21st century military challenges we may have yet to confront."  Holt and Pallone asked the Secretary to add a new criterion recognizing "the value and capabilities of military research and development laboratories and testing centers, as well as their specialized professional talent and technical infrastructure."

Secretary Rumsfeld, however, turned down their request to add a new criterion. As a result, Holt, Pallone, and the other Members had no other option but to attempt to change the BRAC criteria legislatively. Wilsons amendment, if also approved by the Senate, will achieve what Holt and Pallone had requested in their letter.