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Sen. Shelby sees no new BRAC on the horizon

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Sen. Richard Shelby said Monday that he sees no new Base Realignment and Closure, or BRAC, for Maxwell-Gunter on the horizon.

"The Congress is still digesting the last BRAC," the Alabama Republican said referring to cost analysis of the 2005 BRAC decision.

Senator Shelby's comments came as the featured speaker at the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce's "Eggs and Issues" breakfast held in downtown Montgomery at the Retirement Systems of Alabama Activity Center.

Speaking primarily on the state of the economy and the economic stimulus legislation, Senator Shelby addressed BRAC during questions and answers.

"Our military is over-stretched," he said. "We need to be thinking about the challenges down the road," he added before considering any future BRACs.

When asked about the competition to build the next Air Force tanker aircraft, he reminded the audience of the "re-competition" in which Mobile, Ala., is again one of the areas that would benefit if a particular contractor is chosen. Senator Shelby said he believes the best aircraft will be chosen in an honest and transparent process.

"We need this airplane now," he stressed. "The current tanker aircraft are older than the pilots flying them, and we cannot project our force without these tankers."

In addressing the economy, Senator Shelby said, "We need to resolve the crisis in the banking system. There's a lack of confidence we need to fix." He added that the frozen credit system is adversely affecting job creation.

Ellen Brooks, district attorney for Montgomery County, thanked the senator for his support of efforts to fight "ever increasing misuse of computers." Ms. Brooks said computer crimes such as identify theft have rapidly increased. She said Senator Shelby has been at the forefront in battling this new wave of computer abuse.

Senator Shelby, from Tuscaloosa, Ala., told the audience that he has been in the Senate for 23 years and had spent eight years previously in the U.S. House of Representatives. He said he had just completed 1,500 public meetings. "It's always good to get to come home," he added.

After Monday's breakfast, Senator Shelby flew back to Washington, D.C., for a vote on an $838 million economic stimulus package. The legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 61-37. Senator Shelby voted against it.