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Under the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, military facilities were closed and realigned in 1988, 1991, 1993 and 1995. A fifth BRAC round was authorized in late 2005 and must be completed by September 15, 2011. Under the BRAC process: (1) the Department of Defense (DOD) prepares a list of military bases to be realigned or closed; (2) an independent BRAC Commission reviews the list, makes changes and sends a revised list to the President; (3) the President approves and transmits the list to Congress; and (4) the BRAC recommendations are implemented, unless a joint resolution is passed in Congress disapproving the recommendations for closures and realignments.

The 2005 BRAC round includes the closure or realignment of 837 facilities and involves an additional 160 facilities that will gain missions or resources, for a total of 997 changes nationwide. Most of these changes are on a smaller scale, each involving fewer than 300 direct job losses or gains, including military, civilian, and contractor jobs. Unlike previous rounds, the 2005 BRAC round is focused on creating the infrastructure needed to support a transformed, expeditionary armed force — concentrated more on shifting forces and installation assets to promote the centralization of units in places from which they can be deployed rapidly. Thus, the 2005 BRAC round is characterized much more by realignment than closure. In 20 communities, an estimated increase of 170,000 workers is expected.

Important policy issues before Congress include (1) the impact of military base closures and expansions on local employment; (2) the possible elimination of the of the BRAC Commission and the resulting impact on federal economic and community development programs — such as the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program and the Economic Development Administration (EDA) — that currently provide a preference for communities affected by BRAC; (3) the adequacy and flat level of funding for federal assistance programs while anticipating an 80% increase from $17 billion to $32 billion in construction costs; (4) housing for military staff amidst the mortgage crisis; (5) funding for communities experiencing growth through the defense access road program; (6) delays in environmental cleanup that may cause difficulties in the economic redevelopment of military facilities; and (7) redevelopment of military bases as refineries to promote economic growth.

In the 110th Congress, Title I of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act of 2009 (H.R. 6599) and Title I of the parallel Duncan Hunter National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 5658), would allocate funding for BRAC-related activities for road construction, military facilities, and housing assistance.

This report is intended to discuss the geographic impact of base closures and realignments; summarize federal economic assistance programs for communities and individuals affected by BRAC; and highlight issues for Congress. The report will be updated as events warrant.


Suggested Citation
Gonzales, O. (2007). Economic development assistance for communities affected by employment changes due to military base closures (RL34709) [Electronic version]. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.