In his final markup as Chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Rep. James L. Oberstar (Minn.) presided over the approval of several General Services Administration capital resolutions and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers survey resolutions. All of the resolutions considered today were marked up and ordered reported favorably to the House of Representatives by voice vote.
The Committee approved 17 resolutions under the General Services Administration's Capital Investment and Leasing Program, including seven alteration resolutions, one design resolution, six construction resolutions, and three lease resolutions to authorize specific projects.
"Each fiscal year, the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure considers resolutions authorizing the GSA to repair, alter, design, construct, and lease Federal facilities. Among the resolutions we marked up today are the authorization of the construction and consolidation of the Department of Homeland Security at the St. Elizabeths West Campus in Washington, D.C., and the construction of a U.S. land port of entry in Calexico, California," said Oberstar. "A resolution approving the construction of a new U.S. courthouse in Salt Lake City includes a provision requiring that courtroom sharing policies are utilized in the design and construction process. This Committee has long supported courtroom sharing in an effort to save taxpayer dollars."
Chairman Oberstar also expressed disappointment over the GSA's response to the T&I Committee's continuing interest in promoting government ownership rather than leasing, particularly for headquarters functions of Federal agencies.
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.), Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management, remains concerned about the GSA's costly leasing program, particularly for headquarters functions of Federal agencies. Norton said, "The resolutions approved today reflect the Committee's concern about GSA's increasing reliance on costly leasing, and they direct the Administrator to pursue ownership options when appropriate in long-term leases and incorporate energy efficient building systems and components in construction projects whenever practical."
The Committee also approved three U.S. Army Corps of Engineers survey resolutions. Each of the resolutions authorizes a two-phase study of specific water resources needs and possible solutions. Two of the studies approved today were requested by Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), Chairman of the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, and Rep. Frank Kratovil (Md.): the Chesapeake Bay and Maryland Coastal Bays, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia Environmental Restoration; and the Chesapeake Bay Shoreline Erosion, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia Shoreline Protection and Environmental Restoration. The Committee also passed a study of the Hoosic River Watershed, Environmental Restoration, Flood Risk Management, and Watershed Management, which was requested by Rep. John Olver (Mass.).
"The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure plays a vital role in ensuring that deserving Corps projects are adequately studied, and are able to proceed further through the process. Many of these projects, once studied, will return to this Committee for additional authorization in future Water Resources Development Acts," said Oberstar. "In the interests of full disclosure and transparency, the Committee has adopted a policy that requires Members requesting survey resolutions to comply with earmark certification requirements of the Rules of the House. All of the survey resolution requests considered this morning have earmark certifications forms on file with the Committee."
Although the earmark certification requirements do not apply to Committee actions on survey resolutions, Oberstar informed Members that the Committee will only consider survey resolution requests that are accompanied with a valid certification that the Member, and his or her spouse, has no financial interest in the project to be studied.
"These survey resolutions provide the Corps with the necessary authorization to investigate potential water projects throughout the nation, including projects for flood damage reduction, navigation, and environmental restoration," said Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Tex.), Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. "As always, the initial cost for a study will be borne by the federal government, and if a more detailed feasibility study is undertaken, it will be cost shared 50-50 with the local sponsor."