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Excess Federal Building and Property Disposal Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. CHAFFETZ. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

H.R. 665, the Excess Federal Building and Property Disposal Act of 2012, was favorably reported by voice vote by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in November of last year. I'm proud to be one of the sponsors of this bill. There are 39 cosponsors of this bill, and, in particular, I want to thank my colleague, the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Quigley) for his great and passionate work on this, Mr. Connolly, and Ms. Norton. There are a number of people on both sides of the aisle that have passionately worked on this issue.

I'm proud to report, Mr. Speaker, that this is very bipartisan in its nature. I also want to thank our chairman, Chairman Issa, who was very instrumental in passing it out of committee to the floor, as well as Ranking Member Cummings and certainly our majority leader, Mr. Cantor, for allowing and encouraging this bill to come to the floor. So I appreciate the bipartisan nature.

These are the types of things that we should be doing as a body to make sure that we're improving the process and streamlining the disposal of real property that happens in this country. Most are somewhat amazed to understand that our Federal Government has roughly 900,000 buildings and structures under its ownership. The GAO in 2011 estimated that the Federal Government holds 45,000 underutilized properties that cost nearly $1.7 billion annually in order to operate. And, again, these are underutilized. In fact, more recently, OMB Controller Daniel Werfel testified before a Senate subcommittee that the government controls 14,000 excess and 76,000 underutilized buildings and structures. That's going to happen when you consume and have so many Federal buildings. We have to make sure that we, as a government, are also streamlining and moving forward with the disposal of these properties when they become something that is not as frequently used.

The Federal Government has accumulated excess properties because the disposal process is, in many ways, flawed. In 2003 and in 2011, the GAO designated Federal real property management as a high-risk area to the Federal Government. Thus, I think, as an independent group, going out, looking and assessing the situation, have come to the conclusion that we as the Federal Government believe this is a high-risk area that costs well over $1 billion a year, is starting to approach $2 billion a year and that it certainly is in need of some restructuring.

So the Excess Federal Building and Property Disposal Act would streamline the disposal of high-valued properties while also overhauling the existing disposal process. The bill creates a 5-year pilot program that would expedite the disposal of Federal properties with the goal of maximizing profit. Ninety-eight percent of the proceeds under the pilot would be directed to the United States Treasury General Fund, and 2 percent would be authorized for use by homeless assistance providers, as has been the history of this government in the past.

The bill also permanently streamlines the existing disposal process by reducing administrative overhead, creating new agency incentives, and requiring greater transparency and accountability from the federal agencies. Again, this bill is bipartisan; it will direct revenue to the United States Treasury; it reduces operating and maintenance budgets; and it's presented in a bipartisan way.

I would encourage all of my colleagues to support this bill. The nature and the approach that we're taking here, I think, is just good government. It's smarter, more streamlined, more efficient, and moves the ball in the right direction.

House of Representatives, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,

Washington, DC, March 20, 2012.
Hon. Darrell E. Issa,
Chairman, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC.

DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: I am writing with respect to the jurisdictional interest of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure in matters being considered in H.R. 665, the Excess Federal Building and Property Disposal Act of 2011, which was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Our Committee recognizes the desire of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to move H.R. 665 expeditiously. Therefore, while we have a valid claim to jurisdiction over a number of provisions in the bill related to public buildings and improved grounds of the United States and waivers of certain no-cost conveyances, including those related to aviation and highways, I do not object to bringing the legislation to the floor without action by this Committee. This, of course, is conditional on our mutual understanding that nothing in this legislation or my decision to forego any referral waives, reduces or otherwise affects the jurisdiction of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure also asks that you support our request to be conferees on the provisions over which we have jurisdiction during any House-Senate conference. I would appreciate it if you would include a copy of this letter and of your response acknowledging our jurisdictional interest as part of the Congressional Record during consideration of the bill by the House.

Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely,

John L. Mica,
Chairman.

--
House of Representatives, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform,

Washington, DC, March 20, 2012.
Hon. John L. Mica,
Chairman, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC.

DEAR CHAIRMAN MICA: Thank you for your letter of March 19, 2012, regarding H.R. 665, the Excess Federal Building and Property Disposal Act of 2011. Your assistance in expediting consideration of the bill is very much appreciated.

I agree that there are provisions in the bill that are of jurisdictional interest to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and I agree that by foregoing a referral the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure is not waiving its jurisdiction.

I would be pleased to support the representation of your Committee in any conference on H.R. 665 on matters within the jurisdiction of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. And, as you have requested, I will include this exchange of letters in the Congressional Record. Thank you for your cooperation and your continued leadership and support in surface transportation matters.

Sincerely,

Darrell Issa,
Chairman.

I reserve the balance of my time.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. CHAFFETZ. Mr. Speaker, I have no additional speakers. I just want to simply thank the gentleman from Illinois. He's truly one who will stand on principle and work on both sides of the aisle, and for that we're very grateful and appreciative. This is what we are supposed to be doing, working in a bipartisan way.

H.R. 665, as amended, is a good bill. It's good government, it's something we should do, and I would urge all of my colleagues to support it. I appreciate all the support from our leadership in making this point happen.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

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