Mr. Speaker, I question whether the Defense Department in the base closing process has neglected the obvious: homeland security.

No place does this appear more evident than Ellington Field in Houston, Texas. It is said that Ellington Air Force base with its F-16 fighters and National Guard units are of little military value. Without agreeing to that, I point out that over 8 million people live in the area. There are three major ports: the port of Houston, second largest in the United States, sixth in the world; Port Arthur; Port of Beaumont, where one third of the military cargo going to Iraq comes out of this one small port. The massive petrochemical and refineries in the region, Houston still is the energy capital of the world. Over one-half of the gasoline refined in the United States comes from this area. Of course, we have the nuclear power plant in southeast Texas, the largest medical center in the world, and then there is NASA.

Mr. Speaker, I served in the United States Air Force and was stationed at Ellington Field, and the people of southeast Texas want Ellington. They want to keep those F-16s flying. When 9/11 hit, it was the F-16s at Ellington that flew over the blue skies of Texas on watch. It would defy common sense to take those fighters from this needed area of securing the homeland.