The House approved legislation Wednesday that explicitly bars any moves by the Pentagon to close its excess military bases in 2018, echoing a move earlier this month by the chamber.
The amendment, sponsored by Reps. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, and Bill Shuster, R-Pa., was added to an annual Veterans Affairs and military construction spending bill and prohibits any money to be spent on proposing, planning to, or actually shuttering defense facilities as part of the Base Realignment and Closure program.
Ratcliffe said he was protecting the Red River Army Depot in his northeast Texas district and questioned whether a new BRAC round could cost more to implement than it saves the military.
"Starting another BRAC would weaken our capabilities and increase our vulnerabilities in the face of threats that face this country," he said.
Now, the prohibition will be part of the so-called "minibus," a package of four national security appropriations bills that the House was working to pass before its August recess.
Democrats including Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., have opposed the ban.
"We are essentially leaving that money on the table when we could be providing it for our national defense," she said.
The new legislation is redundant. This month, the House passed a BRAC ban in its annual National Defense Authorization Act. A proposed amendment that would have opened the door to the base closures was soundly defeated.
House lawmakers have opposed another round of base closures for years despite requests by the Defense Department and its claim that getting rid of unneeded excess property would save about $2 billion annually. Lawmakers tend to oppose base closures because it means losing jobs in home districts.
The White House has also opposed the House prohibition on BRAC for fiscal 2018.