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Civilian Property Realignment Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SHUSTER. I thank the gentleman from California for yielding.

I do stand here as the former chairman of the Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee who served alongside the distinguished delegate from the District of Columbia. For the years I was chairman, we worked very well together, and so it is a great disappointment that I come to the floor tonight when we thought we had an agreement. If fact, we did have an agreement. The chairman of the subcommittee and the chairman of the full committee were willing to accept the gentlelady's amendment and put it in the bill. But yet here we are today turning this into a partisan bill, which as I said is very disappointing. She said she couldn't come to the floor just on hope. She had more than hope; she had the word of the chairman of the subcommittee and the word of the chairman of the full committee.

So I am here tonight in strong support of the Civilian Property Realignment Act. There are immediate savings: a savings up to $1 billion a year this year alone, and $15 billion over the next 10 years. It reduces the size of government. The commission was tasked with literally reducing the Federal footprint.

And as we know, we have an example right down on Pennsylvania Avenue. The Old Post Office building is going to be put up for a long-term lease. We've got some of the premier hotel operators in the world that want to turn that into a first-rate premier hotel right on Pennsylvania Avenue. Whether it's the Waldorf Astoria or the Marriott or the Trump organization, they all want to take that and immediately turn it into a premier hotel. There will be construction jobs, jobs working in the hotel for the long term, so it's really unfortunate that this bill is going to be made partisan this evening.

The bill establishes a real property commission, a nine person Civilian Property Realignment Commission that will serve to consolidate the footprint, maximize the utilization rate of Federal buildings and facilities, reduce the reliance on costly leased space, sell or redevelop high-value assets that are underutilized--as we talked about, the old Post Office Building. It reduces the operating and maintenance costs of Federal civilian real properties through the realignment of other real properties. It reduces redundancy, overlap, and costs associated with field offices. It creates incentives for Federal agencies to achieve greater efficiency in the inventories of real property the Federal Government has. It facilitates and expedites the sale or disposal of unneeded civilian properties. And it assists Federal agencies in achieving the government's sustainability goals by reducing excess space, inventory, energy consumption, as well as by leveraging new technologies.

As the former chair of this committee, I held hearings about the Federal courthouses. We have overbuilt Federal courthouses in many places in this country for years. For years we've done that. This is going to take a step in reducing what we've been doing and consolidating and doing things that are appropriate and proper to save the taxpayers' money.

It takes the politics out of the process. It provides for expedited review and up-or-down consideration of the commission's recommendations, just like the BRAC process.

Congress would have the opportunity to disapprove of the committee's recommendations en bloc only, not in piecemeal, which is ensuring that politics will be removed from this process.

It provides for a one-time appropriation of $82 million to fully offset from the GSA's building and acquisition amount, after which proceeds from the sale will be used to repay the Treasury.


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