TRENTON – A resolution sponsored by Senator Ellen Karcher which would urge the President of the United States and Congress to reverse the decision by the Base Relocation and Closure Commission (BRAC) to close Fort Monmouth was approved by the Senate Law, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs Committee today by a vote of 4-0.
“When Fort Monmouth first appeared in the BRAC crosshairs, we fought tooth and nail across party lines to convince federal lawmakers to spare the base,” said Senator Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer. “Congress made a mistake in closing Fort Monmouth through the BRAC process, especially in light of recent revelations that early estimates of the cost of transferring the base’s operations elsewhere were grossly underestimated. The federal government must acknowledge its mistake, and take steps to ensure Fort Monmouth remains open, to benefit not only our brave soldiers on the front lines, but the economic prosperity of Monmouth County.”
In August 2005, the BRAC Commission voted to close Fort Monmouth. At the time, local and federal advocates, including Senator Karcher, State Senator Joseph Kyrillos, R-Monmouth, Congressman Frank Pallone, D-13 and Congressman Jim Saxton, R-03, worked to avoid closure of the installation, inviting Commission members to the facility and making a case for Fort Monmouth. However, Congress voted in favor of adopting the BRAC Commission’s recommendations, transferring the operations and personnel currently stationed at Fort Monmouth to Maryland or Ohio by the year 2011.
Since Congress adopted the BRAC recommendations, the initial estimates to close and relocate Fort Monmouth’s operations have nearly doubled, from $780 million to $1.5 billion. Given that the Commission made its recommendations based on faulty cost estimates, Senator Karcher introduced SR-116, calling for Congressional action, and argues that Congress should at the very least reconsider the closure of Fort Monmouth.
“Closing Fort Monmouth and transferring its programs elsewhere is becoming one of the greatest boondoggles in the history of the BRAC process,” said Senator Karcher. “The federal government should take a deep look at the most current information, and reconsider its decision to close the base. Monmouth County’s economic prosperity, and the safety of hundreds of our brave troops overseas, depend on Fort Monmouth, and if bad information was used in the decision to close the base, then that decision must be overturned.”
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.