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Civilian BRAC Measure Advances past House Committee

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  • October 13, 2011
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A measure creating a civilian BRAC commission to expedite the disposal of unneeded federal properties, saving an estimated $15 billion, was approved Thursday by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

The legislation, H.R. 1734, would establish a framework through which an independent commission would review federal properties and make recommendations for consolidations, co-locations, redevelopment, selling or other actions to minimize costs and produce savings for the taxpayer. The legislation would result in a projected direct spending savings of at least $400 million in the first five years, according to a release from the committee.

“The potential to save billions of dollars is real, and H.R. 1734 creates a process that can help us realize those savings,” said Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), chairman of the panel’s Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee and the driving force behind the proposal.

The bill would authorize $65 million for an Asset Proceeds and Space Management fund to carry out the panel’s recommendations.

Under the bill:

  • Recommendations can only be disapproved en bloc by the president and Congress;
  • After a one-time appropriation of initial seed funding, the process would be self-funded by sale proceeds;
  • Proceeds will go towards deficit reduction; and
  • Several underutilized GSA properties would be sold or transferred to generate immediate savings, including the National Women’s History Museum, the consolidation of the National Gallery of Art and the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Energy, and the proposed Los Angeles courthouse.

“There has been inaction for too long; my bill will increase transparency and cut through the bureaucratic red tape to literally shrink the size of government and maximize utilization rates,” Denham said.

During markup, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) offered an amendment striking language allowing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to be bypassed during the commission’s deliberations over which properties to recommend for disposal. Denham pointed out that NEPA requirements still would need to be satisfied when considering how to carry out the disposal actions recommended by the commission.

Norton’s amendment failed, 18-25, reported CQ Today.

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