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DEFENSE COMMUNITIES 360

Provision to Sell Specific Properties Jeopardizes Civilian BRAC Bill

  • October 16, 2011
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A controversial provision requiring the federal government to sell the Washington headquarters of the Department of Energy, among other properties, likely will sink the prospects of legislation that would create a civilian BRAC commission from becoming law, reports the Washington Business Journal.

During last week’s markup of the bill, H.R. 1734, by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), offered a substitute measure with the disputed language. In addition to requiring the federal government to sell the Energy Department’s headquarters, the amendment calls for the sale of land in Los Angeles slated to be the site of a new federal courthouse and the transfer of the Federal Trade Commission’s headquarters to the National Gallery of Art.

The courthouse project was approved a decade ago but has not yet begun. And the existing courthouse still has sufficient space, Committee Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) said Thursday.

The controversial provision originally was a bill Mica introduced to free up FTC’s headquarters for the National Gallery. The substitute amendment introduced by Denham — chairman of the panel’s Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee — passed by voice vote. The committee ultimately approved the bill, 30-22.

The forced sale or transfer of those federal properties likely would doom the bill in the Senate, according to political insiders. At this point, it is not clear when H.R. 1734 would be brought to the House floor.

The legislation 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 bill would save an estimated $15 billion, according to the committee.

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