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Senate hearing set on JFCOM closure

The Senate Armed Services Committee announced Monday that it will convene a hearing Sept. 28 on the Pentagon's plans to streamline its budget, including a proposal to shutter the Joint Forces Command headquarters in Norfolk.

Getting such a hearing has been a priority for Sen. James Webb (D) -- an Armed Services panel member and former Navy Secretary -- as well as his fellow members of the Virginia congressional delegation, who are concerned that the JFCOM closure will deal an economic blow to the Hampton Roads region. They want the Pentagon to explain how and why it has arrived at its decision and to provide evidence for the contention that the closure would save money without weakening national security.

"I support, as a general principle, Secretary Gates's efforts to bring efficiencies into the DOD budget, force structure, personnel and contracting processes; however, the process used to achieve these must be clear and understandable," Webb said in a news release Monday. "Congress has an essential constitutional oversight role in such matters. Further action by the President should be suspended until Congress has satisfactorily obtained a firm understanding of the process and analysis by which Secretary Gates arrived at his recommendation."

Next week's hearing won't result in any immediate action, but Webb and his colleagues are exploring other avenues for halting or delaying the proposed move. Webb will file an amendment to the defense authorization bill being debated this week by the Senate that would "require the Secretary of Defense to provide full justification to Congress before any action is taken to close the Joint Forces Command," according to Webb's office. It is not yet clear whether Webb's amendment will get a vote on the Senate floor.

By Ben Pershing  | September 20, 2010; 4:34 PM ET
Categories:  Ben Pershing, James Webb  
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