WASHINGTON, Aug. 26 (UPI) -- Ellsworth Air Force Base, the second largest employer in South Dakota, got new life Friday from the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission.
By an 8-1 vote, the panel voted to reject the Pentagon's recommendation to close Ellsworth and move its 29 B-1B Lancer bombers to Dyess Air Force Base in Texas.
Freshman Sen. John Thune, whose challenge to former Minority Leader Tom Daschle was based partly on the argument that a Republican would be more likely to save Ellsworth, hailed the decision, the Washington Post reported.
"I spent more time with the BRAC commission than I spent with my wife and family in the last three months," Thune said.
The Pentagon had wanted to consolidate B-1 bomber operations at Dyess Air Force Base in Texas.
The commission also voted 6-1 with two abstentions to keep the Cannon Air Force Base near Clovis, N.M., open, while moving its F-16 squadrons to other bases, the New York Times reported. Under the recommendation, the Pentagon is urged to find a new mission for the base, which could be closed in 2010 if no mission is given it.
Commission decisions this week have affected some of the country's oldest military installations. Walter Reed Hospital in Washington remains on the list for closure, to be consolidated with a Navy hospital in Maryland, while the Portsmouth Navy Yard in Kittery, Maine, is to remain open.