NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR 2006 -- (House of Representatives - May 25, 2005)
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Mr. SALAZAR. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in support of H.R. 1815, the Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006. I commend the Committee for their hard work in crafting this bill. I do wish to express my concern over a certain section of the bill that directly impacts a facility in my district.
Since 1997, the Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives (ACWA) program has overseen the development of new technologies for the destruction of chemical weapons at the Pueblo Chemical Depot in my congressional district and the Blue Grass Army Depot in Lexington, Kentucky. The ACWA program has been highly successful and construction activities are now set to commence in the very near future. Congress intentionally gave oversight authority to the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics in an effort to develop alternative destruction techniques from the incineration process that existed at the time. This year's Defense Authorization gives that authority to the Secretary of the Army.
In a letter dated May 2, 2005, my colleague Mr. CHANDLER of Kentucky, and I asked Under Secretary Mike Wynne to answer several questions about a change of authority of this nature. I still look forward to Under Secretary Wynne's response. The ACWA program's success has been due to the unique interaction between the Federal, State and local government representatives, regulators and the community; I encourage the Secretary of the Army to foster these relationships and ensure that a transparent and open decision making process remains intact. I also urge the Secretary of the Army to make this transition in a way that does not negatively affect the program timelines at either facility or increase the cost of completing this important work.
Mr. Chairman, we are already at risk of not meeting our treaty obligations laid forth in the Chemical Weapons Convention. I fear that if an inefficient and closed organizational structure is established for the two ACWA facilities, the progress we have already made will be lost. This Congress must expect and ensure efficiency in the effort to destroy our chemical weapons stockpiles.
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