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|Posted: Sat Aug 06, 2005 2:43 pm Post subject: Legal ruling due on Air Guard BRAC plans
|By Gordon Trowbridge
The chairman of the independent base-closings commission said Thursday he expects a vital legal opinion on a controversy over Air National Guard bases before a hearing next week.
Anthony Principi, who heads the Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission, asked the Justice Department in July for an opinion on whether the Pentagon could reorganize state National Guard units without permission from governors.
“We expect that in the next several days,” Principi said on Thursday, “certainly before” an Aug. 11 hearing on the issue.
Several states have challenged the Air Force’s base-closings plan, which would remove National Guard flying units from several states in order to consolidate the service’s shrinking fleet of planes. State officials, federal lawmakers and a memo by the commission’s legal staff all contend the moves violate federal laws giving governors authority over Guard units in their states.
Principi said the commission continues to monitor discussions between the states, the Air Force and National Guard leaders. During July hearings, Principi and other commissioners has pleaded with officials to reach a compromise, saying they found the Air Force plan unworkable but could not reject it entirely.
The panel is scheduled on Aug. 23 to begin deliberations and final votes on closings. It must submit its final recommendations to President Bush by Sept. 8; the president and then Congress must reject the entire list or it becomes law.
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