WASHINGTON -- It is the political equivalent of a heavyweight boxing match: a round of military base closures that determines which military facilities around the country should be shuttered or consolidated and which ones should stay open.
And even though the next round is not slated to begin for another four years, Bay State pols are already huddling with fellow New England lawmakers and industry leaders to plot strategy on how to protect Hanscom Air Force Base, Natick Soldier Systems Center and other defense installations such as shipyards that are critical to the region's economy.
Tomorrow, Senators John Kerry and Scott Brown will host a meeting in Washington for a variety of New England's elected officials and industry leaders to begin coordinating their efforts to make New England's case in the face of powerful political blocs across the country who will be sharpening their arguments for why their bases are more important.
"We believe this is a valuable opportunity to sit down with interested parties in the technology industry to help formulate the regional strategy and to discuss specific and measurable actions that could provide greater [Department of Defense] access to, and visibility for, a growing innovation technology economy across New England," Brown, a Republican, and Kerry, a Democrat, wrote last week in inviting organizations like the Massachusetts High Technology Council to attend a briefing in Washington.
The last time Congress set up a bipartisan Base Realignment and Closure Commission, in 2005, Massachusetts fared quite well, ultimately seeing Hanscom and Natick's missions expanded. But that was only after a fierce struggle, including millions of dollars in lobbying expenses and consulting fees to make the right arguments to the panel.
And the next BRAC round, expected in 2015, is not likely to be any easier.
"The work in this sector in our respective states is not just critical to the future of our economy, but it is also critical to our national security," the senators wrote.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.