State Senate mobilizing to defend Naval Submarine Base in Groton
Groton — State senate leaders will establish a Base Realignment and Closure task force in Connecticut to fight off any potential threat to the Naval Submarine Base in Groton, state Sen. Heather Somers, R-Groton, said Friday.
Somers made the announcement at a news conference in which U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., spoke out against a proposed amendment by U.S. Sens. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and John McCain, R-Ariz. to a larger annual defense policy bill.
Both the Senate and House have versions of the defense policy bill, one of which includes a BRAC, or a round of military base closures and consolidations.
“There is a possibility, a strong threat of a base-closing process that would imperil the sub base here in Groton,” Blumenthal said. “We’ve been through a number of these so-called BRACs and we have seen this move before. We want to stop it before it starts because the final scene isn’t pretty.”
The Groton base was slated for closure during BRAC rounds in 1993 and 2005. It was saved both times.
While Blumenthal said the military must look for efficiencies and some bases may close, those decisions should be made by Department of Defense experts based on national security, not by Congress, he said. The proposed amendment would eliminate the independent BRAC commission, created by Congress in an effort to remove politics from the process.
“The process in this amendment would, if anything, politicize the process more than was true in 2005,” Blumenthal said. “It would make base closings a matter of deal making and political horse trading.”
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District. are united with Blumenthal on the issue, he said.
Somers said she would lead the state task force, which will bring together members of the state Senate, representatives of the base in Groton, business leaders, state and local leaders. The base generates more than $5 billion in economic impact to the state and more than 30,000 jobs.
Given its economic importance, Somers said “every person in Connecticut, whether you live in Groton or Litchfield, should rally behind the state Legislature and our federal delegation to make sure the message gets to Washington, (that) there shall be no BRAC, and if there is, the Sub Base at New London-Groton shall not be on it.”
Rep. Christine Conley, a Democrat representing Groton and Ledyard, said she spoke on behalf of all representatives in the southeastern Connecticut delegation in opposition of BRAC.
Representatives of the Groton Town Council, town manager’s office, City of Groton, City of New London and the Groton Housing Authority also attended the news conference.