Twenty senators are demanding an investigation into reports the Obama administration threatened to close Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska if that state’s Democratic senator, Ben Nelson, didn’t join other Democrats in voting for health-care reform.
The group of 20, all Republicans, today called for a hearing in a letter to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., and the committee’s top Republican Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
The text of the letter states:
It has been reported that the Obama administration threatened the closure of a U.S. military installation for political purposes, thereby bringing into question the integrity of the Base Realignment and Closure process. The BRAC process was established to remove political influence so that the decision to close or not to close a military installation could be based upon military utility.
Specifically, various media reports have stated that the Obama administration would put Offutt AFB in southeastern Nebraska on a future BRAC list because of a vote on health-care reform. While we recognize the importance of Offutt AFB as the headquarters of U.S. Strategic Command and the approximately 10,000 individuals that work there, we feel that this installation should remain open or be closed on its own merits.
Therefore, we respectfully ask that a hearing be held as to whether the BRAC process has been compromised. We do not want to see the name of a base from our state on a BRAC list and think it has been put there to settle partisan scores. We also do not want our bases to be more vulnerable to closure because political arm-twisting has taken another installation off the table. National security not partisanship should determine how BRAC decisions are made.
Weekly Standard columnist Michael Goldfarb was among those raising the issue in a post in which he said: “According to a Senate aide, the White House is now threatening to put Nebraska’s Offutt Air Force Base on the BRAC list if Nelson doesn’t fall into line” on health-care reform.
Both the White House and Nelson are denying any such threat ever existed.
“This rumor is absolutely false, as the people spreading it well know,” said Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director. “This is nothing but a cynical, crass political game that is designed to maintain the status quo. Let’s be clear: the people spreading these falsehoods think nothing is wrong with a system under which families and businesses continue to bear the brunt of skyrocketing costs, insurance companies are allowed to discriminate and drop at will, and thousands of Americans lose their coverage every single day.”
Despite the denials, some WND readers have expressed outrage if a threat were indeed made.
“It is time for some spines on the Hill to impeach Obama and charge him with treason,” said reader Tom Bender.
“This is simply amazing that we the people are permitting this type of politics in our country,” noted another, Mike Kovach. “Not that this hasn’t been done before, but this administration is on a course to destroy our nation. I am beginning to wonder why there have not been calls of subversion, treason and sedition against this administration. I’m a Democrat and I would like to see all of those in cohorts with this administration put in jail and charged accordingly.”
The Republicans signing the letter were Sens. John Ensign of Nevada, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, John Thune of South Dakota, Jim Bunning of Kentucky, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker of Tennessee, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Kit Bond of Missouri, Michael Enzi of Wyoming, George LeMieux of Florida, Pat Roberts of Kansas, David Vitter of Louisiana, Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker of Mississippi, John Cornyn of Texas, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, Mike Johanns of Nebraska, Bob Bennett of Utah, Johnny Isakson of Georgia and Chuck Grassley of Iowa.