Thank You For Putting Ellsworth on the Table, Tom Daschle

Daschle, Johnson and Base Closings,” by Jason Heppler, South Dakota Politics, 4 May 2005,

I’m normally pretty critical of ex-Senator Tom Daschle. His flip-flops on filibusters, his destruction of the opposition party, and alienation from his home state are only some of his faults. But he has done great things, like when Daschle allowed Ellwroth to be put on the chopping block.

On September 25, 2001, the Senate, led by MAJORITY Leader Daschle, was debating the fiscal year 2002 defense authorization bill. The bill included “Title XXIX” which was language requiring a base closure process in 2003. In a last-ditch effort, Senator Jim Bunning introduced an amendment to eliminate the base closure process from the bill. A motion to table the Bunning Amendment was made and voted upon. The motion to table was agreed to by a narrow 53-47 vote, which kept the base closure provision in the bill. BOTH Senator Daschle and Senator Johnson voted to support base closure.

Daschle and his #2 Johnson were half the margin needed to allow this round of Base Closings to go forward.

But Tom did more than just vote for it: Daschle opposed House attempts to stop Base Closings.

The House was adamantly opposed to the bill, and even held up the defense authorization bill in conference specifically because of the BRAC provision. But the Senate conferees, appointed by none other than Tom Daschle, stuck to their guns to keep the BRAC provision in the bill. In the end, an agreement was reached to have a round of base closures in 2005 instead of 2003. And that’s where we are today.

In conclusion

In 2001, Tom Daschle was the MAJORITY Leader, in a position to prevent BRAC from ever happening. But instead of working to prevent a BRAC process that would put Ellsworth on the chopping block, Daschle did all he could as majority leader to make BRAC happen.

Unlike SDP’s Jason Heppler, I think this is a good thing. Security readiness is more important than blood pork. Thune sees this, and Daschle saw this. South Dakota blogers like Heppler and Seth should see this too.

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