PRESIDENT Clinton is expected to approve today an independent commission's recommendation to close or realign 132 domestic military bases.
''He has decided to approve it,'' says a senior defense official of the painful political step that would close 79 facilities including McClellan Air Force Base near Sacramento, Calif., and Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio.
The list, announced by the Base Closure Commission in June, has drawn fire from affected communities. Mr. Clinton made the decision based on the Defense Department's promise to keep thousands of jobs lost by the closings of McClellan, located in a key state for the 1996 presidential election, and in Texas, through private contracting.
Clinton has until July 15 to approve or reject the plan to close 79 bases, 28 of them regarded as major facilities, and cut the size of dozens of others and send the report to Congress, which must take it or leave it without change by Aug. 15.
An estimated 8,000 civilian jobs would be lost at McClellan in California, which has been hit hard by previous base closings, and another 11,000 would be lost with the closing of Kelly if the Pentagon does not take steps to keep jobs.