The House rejected an amendment Thursday that could have allowed the military to begin closing billions of dollars worth of unused facilities across the country.

Lawmakers voted 175-248 against stripping a section of the annual National Defense Authorization Act that prohibits any funding to be spent in 2018 to begin shuttering bases under the Base Realignment and Closure program, or BRAC.

The White House opposed the bill's BRAC prohibition this week and the military has said closing excess facilities would save about $2 billion annually.

But, House lawmakers have balked for years at requests by the Pentagon to start up a new BRAC round because military bases often provide economic benefits to their districts. The last series of closures were approved more than a decade ago.

Republicans on the Armed Services Committee sent out a BRAC "fact sheet" before the floor vote Wednesday, saying the military is already too small and that rapidly changing threats and technology could create new needs for facilities.

"Once you give up a base or capability, you may never get it back or it is incredibly expensive to replace," the release said.