House-Approved Defense Bill Prohibits BRAC

Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, sponsor of H.R. 4310 (AP photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted 299-120 to pass the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 (H.R. 4310).  The Act defies the President by adding $4 billion to the Administration’s requested budget and reversing planned cuts to certain weapons programs.  However, for private-sector property investors with DoD tenants and contractors the most significant section of the bill is addressed on its 754th page.  It reads, simply:

SEC. 2713 PROHIBITION ON CONDUCTING ADDITIONAL BASE REALIGNMENT AND CLOSURE

Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize an additional Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round, and none of the funds appropriated pursuant to the authorization of appropriations contained in their Act may be used to propose, plan for, or execute an additional BRAC round.

This language is, essentially, word for word, the Wittman Amendment that we reported on earlier this week.  It remains to be seen if it will also survive the Senate mark-up but there are indications that there is support for quashing BRAC in that chamber as well.  In a bi-partisan effort, 13 Senators crafted a recent letter requesting that DoD be required to report any force reduction measures to Congress prior to implementing those actions. This additional Congressional oversight at the outset of a BRAC request would weaken a core tenet of the BRAC process which establishes an independent BRAC Commission whose mission is to review and revise the DoD BRAC recommendations, followed by Presidential approval, after which Congress allowed the opportunity to disprove  recommendations, but only by doing so en masse.

Private-sector landlords – especially those in the Washington, DC area – have come to fear the BRAC process.  The 2005 BRAC served to clear DoD tenants out of more than five million square feet of office space in Northern Virginia, relocating them primarily to Ft. Belvoir, Ft. Meade and other bases.  The previous BRAC round in 1995 relocated the NAVAIR, NAVSEA and SPAWARS commands, primarily from Arlington’s Crystal City submarket.

Want Capitol Markets articles delivered straight to your inbox?