updated 9/15/2005 7:33:47 PM ET 2005-09-15T23:33:47

President Bush on Thursday endorsed a plan for closing 22 major military bases and reconfiguring 33 others, leaving their fate to Congress.

Bush had until Sept. 23 to either accept the entire report from an independent commission and send it to Congress, or return it to the commission for further work.

The report will become final in 45 days unless Congress acts to reject it in full.

Bush had said that for the process to be “nonpolitical” the commission’s decision would have to stand. He got the report last Friday from the nine-member Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission.

The commission said its recommendations would mean annual savings of $4.2 billion, compared with $5.4 billion under the plan it received in May from Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld had recommended closing 33 major bases and realigning 29 others.

On Monday, a Pentagon official said Rumsfeld had advised Bush that the commission’s changes still would produce large savings, even though fewer bases were designated to be closed than Rumsfeld wanted.

The commission differed with the Pentagon on several aspects of the financial assessment of the shutdowns.

For example, the commission said the Pentagon “routinely failed to properly account for” the added costs that would be incurred by nonmilitary agencies that use a portion of a base set to close.

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