"It's iffy, to be honest," he said Monday afternoon. "I don't think a delay necessarily helps our case." He was referring to unanimous action taken by a House Armed Services subcommittee, late last week ,which voted to delay 2005 military base closures until 2007.
Unless action is taken approving a change, a Base Realignment and Closure Committee (BRAC) is due to be organized under President Bush's direction and make recommendations about one year from today.
"It (vote for delay) sends a message to the Pentagon that there is concern that if they start getting too wild with cuts they could maybe risk losing the entire thing altogether," Bishop said. "It may actually be a catalyst or springboard of movement to stop BRAC altogether."
There's a chance that future base closures would then be done on an individual basis, going through Congress, he explained. "That would be a lot harder for the Department of Defense (DoD) to do, but it would relieve a lot of anxiety back here.
"Whether this amendment has the ability to go all the way, I'm not sure. It was unanimous in committee, even with (the vote) of the person who spoke against it," he said.
If BRAC were delayed two years, however, it would mean more expense in the form of lobbying and studies aimed at bolstering the position of all 400 or so defense facilities -- of which up to 100 could be slated for closure.
"If they stop the process right now, you save money, too," Bishop said. Action of the full House Armed Services Committee is due Wednesday, and could take up to a full day.
"The subcommittee work went very fast, primarily because a lot of members said they would save their ammunition for the full committee."
He said it would be "pretty simple" to halt the BRAC process, "but it's still a long way off" as far as any kind of a vote. "There is quite a bit of support for extending it two years. But with this kind of expense, pain and uncertainty, I'm not sure it helps us."
As a member of the Armed Services Committee, Bishop is privy to some of the discussion about the Iraqi prisoners' treatment situation. However, he and the state's two senators missed Friday's testimony by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, because of a previous Hill Air Force Base-related appointment.
"Senators Hatch, Bennett and I had scheduled a trip down (to Tindal AFB, Fla.) to look at the F-22, the future fighter that could actually be prepared to be part of the depot work at Hill." Some work on the aircraft is already going on in Utah through private contractors, he said.
"It's an expensive plane, but it is a marvelous plane as far as what it can do. It can take off...within 800 feet. We watched a '22 take off. It was able to get off the ground much quicker than an F-15 that followed right after. It's much more maneuverable. It's just a great airplane."
Debate has yet to be scheduled on how many F-22s would be manufactured. "To me, it's one of the next generation of plane. We wanted to be supportive of it, wanted to be there first-hand, as it becomes a new generation for the F-15 and F-16."