Senators Put Hold on Base Commission Nominees
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Sens. Alfonse D’Amato and Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York have put a hold on Senate confirmation of members of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission, a congressional aide said Friday.
``Sen. Moynihan and Sen. D’Amato are concerned that politics may play a role,″ said the aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
At stake are thousands of jobs and economic futures of some communities. Local elected officials and members of Congress have been lobbying the Defense Department in an effort to protect their bases.
The Pentagon’s list of recommended base closures and cutbacks is expected to be released Tuesday. The list will be forwarded to the base closing commission, which will hold public hearings and send a final report to President Clinton by summer. Clinton will then send it to Congress, which must accept or reject it in its entirety.
So far, only the chairman of the commission, former Sen. Alan Dixon of Illinois, has been approved by the Senate.
The other nominees are Rebecca G. Cox, a vice president of Continental Airlines; Retired Air Force Gen. J.B. Davis; S. Lee Kling, a former finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee; Benjamin F. Montoya, a retired Navy rear admiral and now president of Public Service Co. of New Mexico; Wendi L. Steele, the Senate liaison to last base closing commission, and Al Cornella, a Rapid City, S.D., businessman.
The congressional aide said Moynihan, a Democrat, and D’Amato, a Republican, put a hold on confirmation of the commission nominees late Thursday. Under Senate rules, any member of the body can secretly place a hold on the confirmation process.
Spokesmen for the two lawmakers would neither confirm nor deny the hold.
``Both senators are aware that a bipartisan hold exists but cannot confirm that they are the holds,″ said Harvey Valentine, spokesman for D’Amato.
The commission could move forward with only Dixon, the chairman.
``If that’s the case, then we’ll proceed that way. There’s nothing in the law that says you have to have seven people there,″ said Wade Nelson, spokesman for the commission.
``In fact, we could go forward to our final report in July with only Sen. Dixon in place,″ he said.