Congressman Gene Green Not Happy With Brac Vote
October 27, 2005
Washington, DC -Congressman Gene Green (D-Houston) today urged his fellow colleagues to support House Joint Resolution 65, which disapproves of the recommendations made by Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC), set forth back in September of this year. If resolution passes both in the House and Senate, the list would have been sent back to the Commission for review.
This is the most ill-advised and ill-timed round in the history of Base Realignments and Closures, said Congressman Gene Green. We currently have men and women fighting in two countries, we have passed three of the largest supplemental requests in our nations history with a fourth likely in the next several months, and we are in the process of closing bases overseas and bringing troops home.
Like many other communities across the country, the district I represent was affected by the Defense Departments plan to consolidate Air National Guard units, leaving one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country less prepared to respond to a terrorist attack.
Currently the 147th Fighter Wing of the Texas Air National Guard provides air security for the Gulf Coast and is permanently stationed at Ellington Field, Texas. The 147th could respond to a threat on the petrochemical complex or at the Port of Houston in minutes due to its close proximity.
One of the most vulnerable targets in the area, and possibly the country, is the petrochemical complex, continued Congressman Gene Green. This is a tremendous complex that stretches the length of the Houston Ship Channel and continues along the coast through Beaumont, Texas.
We have seen in the aftermath of Katrina and Rita the negative effects caused by disruptions in our oil supply and refining capacity, and leaving this area unprotected is leaving the door open to a terrorist attack on this critical infrastructure.
The House Resolution came up for a vote on Thursday, October 27, 2005, early this afternoon. The Resolution was voted down with a vote of 85-324.
*Congressman Gene Green spoke on the House floor; attached are his comments.
H. Res. 65
"Mr. Chairman, I am proud to follow my neighbor from Texas (Mr. Delay). Ellington s in his district, but I am the next closest Member.
"I rise to express my disapproval for the recommendations of the Defense Base Realignment and Closure and urge my colleagues to support the gentleman from Illinois resolution, of which I am a proud cosponsor. This is the most ill-advised, ill-timed round in base closure history. We currently have men and women fighting in two countries, and we passed three large supplemental requests, and a fourth likely in the next few months. We are in the process of closing bases overseas and bringing them home. Given these uncertainties, we cannot know what our base needs or our threat needs will be for the next 5, 10, or 20 years.
"Like a number of my colleagues, Ellington is home to the 147th Air National Guard Wing, Teas Air National Guard Wing. Houston is the 4th largest city in our Nation. It is our home, has a huge petrochemical complex that accounts for nearly half of the Nations base petrochemical production. The Houston ship channel in the Port of Houston handled more foreign tonnage than any other port. We have the medical center and NASAs Johnson Space Center. One of the most vulnerable targets in the area is the petrochemical complex, along with these other assets. Yet the base closure commission on a close vote decided to close Ellington.
"Now, what they are doing is they are saying that we are going to provide service from San Antonio, Texas. The problem is that is 23 minutes away. As we know, an airborne attack on a refinery complex could seriously disrupt our Nations energy supply, causing major nationwide economic impacts. An attack on a chemical plant could result in a hazardous release and thousands of casualties.
"Currently our 147th Air Wing provides air security in the area, and the solution from the Pentagon is rotating several planes to fly on alert out of Ellington, which provides a much smaller deterrent than having a full squadron. What would happen if we had multiple planes that are attacking different facilities?
"I urge a yes vote on the resolution."