One of the U.S. Senate committees Republican hopeful Linda McMahon would like to serve on is the Armed Services Committee, she told a group of Darien residents and reporters. But she would not say if she would vote for the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission process, known as BRAC.
Last week, while visiting Electric Boat in Groton, she told The Day of New London that BRAC is a way to find efficiencies in defense spending and that she would support it depending on what cuts were proposed. Her Republican opponent in the August primary, former U.S. Rep. Chris Shays, pointed out to the media that this showed McMahon didn’t know how the process worked. As BRAC is established to figure out what would close and then is presented to Congress, which votes up or down on the whole proposal. Rarely does Congress get a chance to remove a suggestion from the commission’s proposal.
The next BRAC could come in 2015. Shays has vowed to oppose another commission. While he was at General Dynamics’ Electric Boat shipyard last weekend, he said that the next BRAC would almost certainly target the linchpin of Connecticut’s defense industry, the U.S. Naval Submarine Base on the Thames River, according to CTMirror.org.
On Thursday in Darien, McMahon was touring the downtown with First Selectman Jayme Stevenson who brought her to The Darien Times’ weekly community coffee at the Sugar Bowl for about 20 minutes where residents and members of The Darien Times, and its sister newspaper, the Greenwich Post, asked her questions.
“Well given that we have so much emphasis here in our state on defense budgets I would very much like to serve on the Armed Forces Committee,” she said in response to a question about which U.S. Senate committees she would want to be on. “Also on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions because that is such a big part of what we’re looking at today. Finance Committee because I think that is in my wheel house as well.”
When asked if she has changed her opinion on BRAC that she shared last week, McMahon said her opinion is “how it sounds. We will fight to keep that base open tooth and nail.”
When pressed to answer if she would still want to see the BRAC process begin, she continued to say she would “fight to keep the base open and to keep those jobs at Electric Boat here in our state. There is nothing I wouldn’t do to prevent that from happening.”
After five times of being asked, yes or no, if she would vote to start BRAC, she declined to directly answer before asking if anyone else had questions for her.
A transcript of the back and forth is below and a video is on this page.
Darien Times: I’m curious, if elected what committees would you like to serve on?
McMahon: Well given that we have so much emphasis here in our state on defense budgets I would very much like to serve on the Armed Services Committee. Also on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions because that is such a big part of what we’re looking at today. Finance Committee because I think that is in my wheel house as well.
Darien Times: Have you changed your opinion on BRAC? What you discussed at the base last week.
McMahon: My opinion relative to the base is absolutely how it sounds. We will fight to keep that base open tooth and nail.
Darien Times: But you still would like to see a BRAC process?
McMahon: No, no, no, that was a total misinterpretation and I will fight to keep that base open and to keep those jobs at Electric Boat here in our state. There is nothing I wouldn’t do to prevent that from happening.
Darien Times: So you’d vote against BRAC?
McMahon: Well as I said, I’m going to keep the base — I’m going to fight for the people of Connecticut to keep that base open.
Darien Times: Well right. But, but, Mrs. McMahon, but would you vote to have BRAC start or not?
McMahon: I’m going to fight for the people at Electric Boat at that base. Did you know we have 101,000 people — I was reading an article yesterday — that 101,000 jobs that are defense, direct defense jobs in our state? And billions of jobs that contribute so I’m not going to let those go away.
Darien Times: So, just can you answer yes or no?
McMahon: I answered you.
Darien Times: No you didn’t.
McMahon: Yes I did.
Darien Times: Can you answer yes or no?
McMahon: Anybody else?
DarienTimes.com will feature more from Thursday’s meeting with McMahon this week and in next week’s print edition.