A plan to save billions of dollars by closing dozens of military bases around the country, including Utah's Fort Douglas, goes before Congress after being approved ahead of schedule by Defense Secretary Frank C. Carlucci.

The House and Senate must deal with the plan in its entirety, approving or rejecting it. The congressional resolution would then go to the White House. Senate and House leaders have predicted Congress will approve the plan.Carlucci told reporters Thursday that U.S. military leaders strongly endorsed what he called a "unique opportunity" to save money.

"We just have to move ahead and do this," Carlucci said. "We have not closed a base since 1978. And I think that fact speaks for itself. We need to step up to the plate here."

Carlucci took just a week to review the recommendations of a government commission that had been created by the administation and Congress to review 4,200 military properties.

After seven months of review, the commission recommended outright closure of 34 military installations and 52 military housing complexes and partial closure of five other installations. It recommended that 54 other bases receive new missions or additional personnel.

Members of the commission estimated the closings would save the nation $693 million a year in the short term, and up to $5.6 billion over two decades.

Carlucci said he would have endorsed the closing of even more bases but did not want to tinker with the delicate political compromise.