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Hearing of the Economic Development, Public Buildings & Emergency Management Subcommittee of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee - "Sitting on Our Assets: The Cotton Annex"


Location: Unknown

Thank you Mr. Chairman, and Ranking Member Holmes Norton, for holding today's important
hearing on excess federal property. It's been a pleasure working with you, Mr. Chairman, on the
Civilian Property Realignment Act (CPRA), and I congratulate you on its passage out of the
House last month.

As this committee knows, the federal government owns over 45,000 excess and underutilized
properties. According to GAO, these properties cost American taxpayers over $1.7 billion a year
to maintain and operate, which is one of the reasons GAO has put federal property management
on its "high risk" list. Despite this high risk status, little has been done to successfully address
the problem.

The current disposal process, led by the Federal Real Property Council (FRPC) is mired in
bureaucratic red tape, politics, competing stakeholder interests, and other inefficiencies. Mr.
Chairman, the current process is broken. President Obama has acknowledged that the process is
broken. So simply accepting the status quo and codifying the FRPC, with some modest changes
as alternative proposals suggest, will do little to guarantee that properties are disposed of.
Look at the building we're in today; a nearly 90,000 square foot building sitting on prime real
estate that has an estimated value of $150 million. Yet it has been sitting empty for over 5 years while the taxpayers foot the bill for its maintenance. Mr. Chairman, this building, which is down the street from Congress, serves as a symbol of the culture of complacency our government has towards wasting taxpayer dollars. With over $15 trillion in debt, taxpayers cannot afford for Washington to continue business as usual.

In today's political environment, it seems that everything is turned into a partisan fight, with
little being accomplished. Even common sense legislation, like the STOCK ACT has struggled
to make it through Congress. But, fighting waste, fraud and abuse in the federal government is
not a partisan issue. Saving taxpayer dollars is not a partisan objective. So I am pleased to
announce that today, in a bipartisan effort, Senator Mark Warner and I are introducing the
Civilian Property Realignment Act of 2012.

Senator Warner and I have been working to improve the CPRA legislation I introduced last
August. Our bipartisan legislation takes the necessary steps to ensure the best use of federal
property for taxpayers, because it's time that the government put the best interest of the
taxpayers first. Our improvements also strengthen the legislation's deficit reduction goal by
requiring a minimum of 80% of proceeds and savings go to the treasury for deficit reduction,
rather than being used to pad federal agencies' budgets.

I strongly believe that an independent commission, like the one established through CPRA, is the
only viable way to overcome the hurdles in the disposal process created by competing
stakeholder interests. I also believe that the streamlined process created by CPRA is the best
way to break through the red tape and ensure that properties are actually disposed of.

President Obama proposed CPRA last year, and under your leadership, Mr. Chairman, it was
successfully passed out of the House. So we're two thirds of the way to having this critical
legislation signed into law. Senator Warner and I look forward to working with Chairman
Barbara Boxer on the Environment and Public Works Committee, and our other colleagues in the
Senate, to ensure CPRA's passage in the Senate.

Mr. Chairman, I appreciate your leadership in the House on this important issue and look
forward to the enactment of CPRA. Thank you.

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