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Senator Johnson Reacts To Ellsworth Decision

August 26, 2005, 8:54 AM

Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) congratulated the Ellsworth Task Force and all of South Dakota after the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission reaffirmed Ellsworth Air Force Base’s role in national security. The Commission voted to remove Ellsworth from the base closure list, enabling it to remain a vital part of our military.

“Allowing Ellsworth to close without a fight was never an option,” said Johnson. “I’m pleased that the BRAC Commissioners recognized the invaluable contribution Ellsworth Air Force Base makes to our national security and has recommended against placing it on the final base closure list. Ellsworth is critical not only to our national defense, but to the economic livelihood of the Rapid City area.”

If a military base is included on the initial base closure list, the BRAC commissioners can remove the base if they determined the Department of Defense substantially deviated from the criteria used to determine which bases are to be closed or re-aligned. This was the case with Ellsworth Air Force Base when the Commissioners voted 8-1 to remove the base from the list.

“Ensuring that the Commission voted to remove Ellsworth from the base closure list was truly a group effort,” Johnson continued. “I was proud to work with Senator Thune, Representative Herseth, Governor Rounds, and the Ellsworth Task Force to make today’s vote a reality. We left no stone unturned in our efforts to save Ellsworth.”

“Ellsworth Air Force base has been a part of South Dakota’s history for over 60 years,” said Johnson. “I am certain the base, as well as the brave men and women who serve there, will continue to make an invaluable contribution to our national defense for decades to come,” Johnson concluded.

The President will be presented with the BRAC Commission’s findings and its own suggestions by September 8, 2005. The President must either forward the report to Congress or return it to the Commission for further evaluation by September 23rd. He must accept the list in its entirety and cannot “line-item veto” any military installation.

In the past 3 years, Senator Johnson has used his position on the Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee to help direct more than $75 million to Ellsworth, including funding for a new base operations building, B-1 training facility, and military housing. Since the last round of base closures, Ellsworth has received nearly $140 million in military construction projects in preparation for this BRAC round. In 2004, Ellsworth contributed $278 million to the local economy and generates a substantial number of civilian jobs at the base.

Joshua Rosenblum

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