4:11 PM EDT

Ron Klink, D-PA 4th

Mr. KLINK. Mr. Chairman, I would look forward to working with my friend, the gentleman from Tennessee, because he brings to light a very real situation that we are faced with today. We are all in favor of getting these buildings cleaned up. The question is, the Federal government has not set a level, and we think a level should be set for those things that are volumetrically contaminated.

We would work with the gentleman. I know he is very serious on this. We have worked together on other issues before. This amendment does not get to the gentleman's point. This is about those things that are imported from China, from Russia, from South America, that we do not know, and as the gentleman knows, 60 percent of steel that is produced today is recycled.

They could be doing things over there that we do not know about. We want to catch it at our ports. It has nothing to do with the domestic content.

4:11 PM EDT

Ron Klink, D-PA 4th

Mr. KLINK. Mr. Chairman, I would look forward to working with my friend, the gentleman from Tennessee, because he brings to light a very real situation that we are faced with today. We are all in favor of getting these buildings cleaned up. The question is, the Federal government has not set a level, and we think a level should be set for those things that are volumetrically contaminated.

We would work with the gentleman. I know he is very serious on this. We have worked together on other issues before. This amendment does not get to the gentleman's point. This is about those things that are imported from China, from Russia, from South America, that we do not know, and as the gentleman knows, 60 percent of steel that is produced today is recycled.

They could be doing things over there that we do not know about. We want to catch it at our ports. It has nothing to do with the domestic content.

4:11 PM EDT

Ron Klink, D-PA 4th

Mr. KLINK. Mr. Chairman, I would look forward to working with my friend, the gentleman from Tennessee, because he brings to light a very real situation that we are faced with today. We are all in favor of getting these buildings cleaned up. The question is, the Federal government has not set a level, and we think a level should be set for those things that are volumetrically contaminated.

We would work with the gentleman. I know he is very serious on this. We have worked together on other issues before. This amendment does not get to the gentleman's point. This is about those things that are imported from China, from Russia, from South America, that we do not know, and as the gentleman knows, 60 percent of steel that is produced today is recycled.

They could be doing things over there that we do not know about. We want to catch it at our ports. It has nothing to do with the domestic content.

4:11 PM EDT

Ron Klink, D-PA 4th

Mr. KLINK. Mr. Chairman, I would look forward to working with my friend, the gentleman from Tennessee, because he brings to light a very real situation that we are faced with today. We are all in favor of getting these buildings cleaned up. The question is, the Federal government has not set a level, and we think a level should be set for those things that are volumetrically contaminated.

We would work with the gentleman. I know he is very serious on this. We have worked together on other issues before. This amendment does not get to the gentleman's point. This is about those things that are imported from China, from Russia, from South America, that we do not know, and as the gentleman knows, 60 percent of steel that is produced today is recycled.

They could be doing things over there that we do not know about. We want to catch it at our ports. It has nothing to do with the domestic content.

4:11 PM EDT

Ron Klink, D-PA 4th

Mr. KLINK. Mr. Chairman, I would look forward to working with my friend, the gentleman from Tennessee, because he brings to light a very real situation that we are faced with today. We are all in favor of getting these buildings cleaned up. The question is, the Federal government has not set a level, and we think a level should be set for those things that are volumetrically contaminated.

We would work with the gentleman. I know he is very serious on this. We have worked together on other issues before. This amendment does not get to the gentleman's point. This is about those things that are imported from China, from Russia, from South America, that we do not know, and as the gentleman knows, 60 percent of steel that is produced today is recycled.

They could be doing things over there that we do not know about. We want to catch it at our ports. It has nothing to do with the domestic content.

4:11 PM EDT

Ron Klink, D-PA 4th

Mr. KLINK. Mr. Chairman, this amendment would take $950,000 from the Treasury Inspector General's account for tax administration and would move that sum over to the Customs Service to provide the Customs Service with funding to monitor the radioactivity in scrap metal that is being imported into the United States. This is a problem that has just recently come to our attention during field hearings with the steel industry in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and we would like to take some action on that.

Currently, the United States has no standard to control the free release of radioactive contaminated scrap metal. Those metals are being recycled into consumer and industrial products and then are being sold on open commerce. Nor is there an international standard that tells us if there is a safe level of radioactivity in these metals that are recycled.

There is tremendous public opposition to any radioactive metal being included in consumer products like the silverware that we eat with or the pots and pans that we cook with or the cans that our food may come in or baby carriage handles or braces on one's teeth, or belt buckles. The steel industry does not want any radioactive scrap metal in its blast furnaces because it could contaminate the entire steel mill and the cleanup could cost $15 million to $20 million if that occurs. We are asking

for a relatively modest sum to be able to monitor this amount of money.

As we decommission more and more of our nuclear weapons facilities around the world and our nuclear power plants around the world, there are literally hundreds of millions of tons of contaminated scrap metal that will have to be dealt with. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is in the process of seeing if a standard can be established.

While this is underway, the Department of Energy has put a moratorium on the release of any contaminated metal. DOE is studying whether it is economical to have a dedicated steel facility that produces goods for the complex that will use this metal. I fully support those steps.

However, in the meantime, there have been at least 50 incidents of undetected contaminated metals coming into this country from overseas. Currently, Customs agents at truck ports wear radiation detectors around their belts like a pager. These detectors are only sophisticated enough to detect the really hot items of 10 millirems or higher. The funds we are asking for today would allow for the purchase of portal monitors that trucks can drive through which can detect radiation levels as low as

1 millirem.

Mr. Chairman, this program will not stop shipments of scrap metal from going to the recipients. It will, however, identify those shipments that are contaminated and will also provide the information necessary to determine whether importation of radioactive metals is a problem that deserves further attention.

After one year, I will ask the Customs Service to provide a report to the Congress on the results of this radioactive test monitoring.

Mr. Chairman, the American public, the American steel industry, and those who work in that steel industry deserve the same protections, regardless of the source of the metal that is going into these products. This amendment would provide the funds to make that happen, and I ask the chairman and the ranking member for their support of this amendment. It is a nonpartisan amendment, and it is one that is intended to protect the public and the workers in the steel industry.

[Time: 16:15]

4:14 PM EDT

Ron Klink, D-PA 4th

Mr. KLINK. Mr. Chairman, I would look forward to working with my friend, the gentleman from Tennessee, because he brings to light a very real situation that we are faced with today. We are all in favor of getting these buildings cleaned up. The question is, the Federal government has not set a level, and we think a level should be set for those things that are volumetrically contaminated.

We would work with the gentleman. I know he is very serious on this. We have worked together on other issues before. This amendment does not get to the gentleman's point. This is about those things that are imported from China, from Russia, from South America, that we do not know, and as the gentleman knows, 60 percent of steel that is produced today is recycled.

They could be doing things over there that we do not know about. We want to catch it at our ports. It has nothing to do with the domestic content.

4:14 PM EDT

Jim Kolbe, R-AZ 5th

Mr. KOLBE. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

Mr. Chairman, I will not take 5 minutes. I have mixed views about this. I understand what the gentleman is trying to do. I would just point out that this comes out of the Inspector General's account. This is the account that we regard as the one we expect to do the oversight for the IRS and all the other functions in Treasury.

Now, in an account that has over $100 million, maybe losing $1 million of that is not that significant. But we do not really know exactly what the impact of this will be in terms of their oversight functions.

I am also a little unclear as to exactly, and I know the gentleman has [Page: H6646]

talked about it being a demonstration project, but I am a little unclear as to exactly how this would work, what the $950,000 is going to be used for.

There have not been any hearings, as I understand it, in front of the Committee on Commerce. There has been no work done by the authorizing committee on this. I think this needs more information and more discussion before we would proceed with it.

For that reason, I would just say that I think this amendment may be an inappropriate amendment at this point.

4:16 PM EDT

Ron Klink, D-PA 4th

Mr. KLINK. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the gentleman's concerns. To address them, we have been working in the Committee on Commerce, and while we have not had hearings, we have been working on this in a bipartisan fashion trying to address this issue.

We have a piece of legislation separate from this that is a bipartisan piece of legislation, the bipartisan Steel Caucus is in support of it, called the Scrap Act. We are trying to move that forward at this time.

The figure we came up with is not one that was pulled out of the air, it is one that they tell us, for the two main ports that we have to address where we are most concerned, and these concerns are throughout the government, we are most concerned that this scrap would be coming in from Mexico and South America and the Far East. We can take care of those two main ports.

The reason we chose this account, and I understand, I do not like to cut the Inspector General either, but this account was plussed up by $7 million. We do not think that taking $950,000 from that account would be a problem. It is $7 million higher in 2001 than in 2000. I thank the gentleman for his courtesy.

4:17 PM EDT

Jim Kolbe, R-AZ 5th

Mr. KOLBE. Reclaiming my time, Mr. Chairman, I would just note that in full committee, the gentleman may not be aware of this, but this account already was reduced by $2 million over the amount that was planned for. This is another $1 million out of that.

In terms of meeting current services and paying the pay increases for the people that are already there doing the jobs of oversight, it will have an effect on that, there is no question about it. But I just raise these questions.

4:17 PM EDT

Ron Klink, D-PA 4th

Mr. KLINK. Mr. Chairman, I would look forward to working with my friend, the gentleman from Tennessee, because he brings to light a very real situation that we are faced with today. We are all in favor of getting these buildings cleaned up. The question is, the Federal government has not set a level, and we think a level should be set for those things that are volumetrically contaminated.

We would work with the gentleman. I know he is very serious on this. We have worked together on other issues before. This amendment does not get to the gentleman's point. This is about those things that are imported from China, from Russia, from South America, that we do not know, and as the gentleman knows, 60 percent of steel that is produced today is recycled.

They could be doing things over there that we do not know about. We want to catch it at our ports. It has nothing to do with the domestic content.

4:17 PM EDT

Zach Wamp, R-TN 3rd

Mr. WAMP. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Mr. Chairman, the gentleman's amendment raises an important issue which I come to the floor today to discuss. That is the overall issue of metals recycling in this country.

I certainly support the gentleman on steel issues and these import questions, and think the intent of his amendment is worthwhile. But I want to come today and express some frustration.

Being a representative of one of the major components of the Manhattan Project in this country, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where we won the Cold War and broke the back of communism with a nuclear buildup, we now have this challenge, as the gentleman from Pennsylvania well stated, of what to do with this nuclear legacy and how to turn this environmental liability around, and what to do with these assets.

We have to reindustrialize these assets at some point, in some way. My frustration is that the Department of Energy announced a sweeping plan to tear down these buildings and melt the metals, and where science and the best intelligence that we can find shows that the levels of radiation are below any reasonable standard, then we could put that recycled metal back into the marketplace.

That is where I thought we were when they began this reindustrialization effort and announced what they called a win-win-win situation for the American taxpayer. We could actually recycle the metal and help pay for the clean-up, because these buildings, these huge assets, cannot just sit there in a mothballed state. The maintenance cost is too high. We need to turn them around and put the land and buildings back into some kind of productive use.

We have buildings in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, that are acres and acres and acres under one roof from the Manhattan Project that need to be turned over. We cannot just maintain them at this high cost. So there is a shared national interest in trying to clean up this environmental legacy.

I just want to make sure that science and common sense drives this train, and that hysteria or some special interest groups do not end up winning the day on these issues.

I want to say I am frustrated. I am frustrated because the Department of Energy on July 7 officially retreated from their own program, the one that Secretary Richardson rolled out as a win-win-win, and now they have retreated. They have said no recycling pending the study that may not take place for 2 years.

I am all for the study, but all the studies that I have seen show that we get more radiation from salt substitute than we get from any of these things. Radiation is natural in our environment. Radiation we get from flying on airplanes. We get radiation from a variety of things.

Radiation is not the issue, the level of radiation is the issue. If it is very, very, very low level radiation that is not anywhere near what we would get going to the dentist, it is ridiculous to halt it.

What has happened in East Tennessee by halting it is people are now sent home with no pay pending all these studies, pending the outcomes in a program that DOE initiated.

I would ask the administration to get its act together, to be consistent, at least to follow through on what they say, and do not just send workers, good and decent people in my region now, hundreds of them that are going to be sent home or they have been sent home indefinitely to just wait, and wait on what, I do not know.

I called the Secretary today and he said he would meet me about it next week. I am asking for some answers. I am asking for consistency. I am asking for some solutions for the folks of East Tennessee and the Oak Ridge reservation that have been called on to turn these buildings around, because they are now left hanging because this administration cannot figure out exactly what it wants.

4:17 PM EDT

Zach Wamp, R-TN 3rd

Mr. WAMP. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Mr. Chairman, the gentleman's amendment raises an important issue which I come to the floor today to discuss. That is the overall issue of metals recycling in this country.

I certainly support the gentleman on steel issues and these import questions, and think the intent of his amendment is worthwhile. But I want to come today and express some frustration.

Being a representative of one of the major components of the Manhattan Project in this country, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where we won the Cold War and broke the back of communism with a nuclear buildup, we now have this challenge, as the gentleman from Pennsylvania well stated, of what to do with this nuclear legacy and how to turn this environmental liability around, and what to do with these assets.

We have to reindustrialize these assets at some point, in some way. My frustration is that the Department of Energy announced a sweeping plan to tear down these buildings and melt the metals, and where science and the best intelligence that we can find shows that the levels of radiation are below any reasonable standard, then we could put that recycled metal back into the marketplace.

That is where I thought we were when they began this reindustrialization effort and announced what they called a win-win-win situation for the American taxpayer. We could actually recycle the metal and help pay for the clean-up, because these buildings, these huge assets, cannot just sit there in a mothballed state. The maintenance cost is too high. We need to turn them around and put the land and buildings back into some kind of productive use.

We have buildings in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, that are acres and acres and acres under one roof from the Manhattan Project that need to be turned over. We cannot just maintain them at this high cost. So there is a shared national interest in trying to clean up this environmental legacy.

I just want to make sure that science and common sense drives this train, and that hysteria or some special interest groups do not end up winning the day on these issues.

I want to say I am frustrated. I am frustrated because the Department of Energy on July 7 officially retreated from their own program, the one that Secretary Richardson rolled out as a win-win-win, and now they have retreated. They have said no recycling pending the study that may not take place for 2 years.

I am all for the study, but all the studies that I have seen show that we get more radiation from salt substitute than we get from any of these things. Radiation is natural in our environment. Radiation we get from flying on airplanes. We get radiation from a variety of things.

Radiation is not the issue, the level of radiation is the issue. If it is very, very, very low level radiation that is not anywhere near what we would get going to the dentist, it is ridiculous to halt it.

What has happened in East Tennessee by halting it is people are now sent home with no pay pending all these studies, pending the outcomes in a program that DOE initiated.

I would ask the administration to get its act together, to be consistent, at least to follow through on what they say, and do not just send workers, good and decent people in my region now, hundreds of them that are going to be sent home or they have been sent home indefinitely to just wait, and wait on what, I do not know.

I called the Secretary today and he said he would meet me about it next week. I am asking for some answers. I am asking for consistency. I am asking for some solutions for the folks of East Tennessee and the Oak Ridge reservation that have been called on to turn these buildings around, because they are now left hanging because this administration cannot figure out exactly what it wants.

4:17 PM EDT

Zach Wamp, R-TN 3rd

Mr. WAMP. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Mr. Chairman, the gentleman's amendment raises an important issue which I come to the floor today to discuss. That is the overall issue of metals recycling in this country.

I certainly support the gentleman on steel issues and these import questions, and think the intent of his amendment is worthwhile. But I want to come today and express some frustration.

Being a representative of one of the major components of the Manhattan Project in this country, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where we won the Cold War and broke the back of communism with a nuclear buildup, we now have this challenge, as the gentleman from Pennsylvania well stated, of what to do with this nuclear legacy and how to turn this environmental liability around, and what to do with these assets.

We have to reindustrialize these assets at some point, in some way. My frustration is that the Department of Energy announced a sweeping plan to tear down these buildings and melt the metals, and where science and the best intelligence that we can find shows that the levels of radiation are below any reasonable standard, then we could put that recycled metal back into the marketplace.

That is where I thought we were when they began this reindustrialization effort and announced what they called a win-win-win situation for the American taxpayer. We could actually recycle the metal and help pay for the clean-up, because these buildings, these huge assets, cannot just sit there in a mothballed state. The maintenance cost is too high. We need to turn them around and put the land and buildings back into some kind of productive use.

We have buildings in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, that are acres and acres and acres under one roof from the Manhattan Project that need to be turned over. We cannot just maintain them at this high cost. So there is a shared national interest in trying to clean up this environmental legacy.

I just want to make sure that science and common sense drives this train, and that hysteria or some special interest groups do not end up winning the day on these issues.

I want to say I am frustrated. I am frustrated because the Department of Energy on July 7 officially retreated from their own program, the one that Secretary Richardson rolled out as a win-win-win, and now they have retreated. They have said no recycling pending the study that may not take place for 2 years.

I am all for the study, but all the studies that I have seen show that we get more radiation from salt substitute than we get from any of these things. Radiation is natural in our environment. Radiation we get from flying on airplanes. We get radiation from a variety of things.

Radiation is not the issue, the level of radiation is the issue. If it is very, very, very low level radiation that is not anywhere near what we would get going to the dentist, it is ridiculous to halt it.

What has happened in East Tennessee by halting it is people are now sent home with no pay pending all these studies, pending the outcomes in a program that DOE initiated.

I would ask the administration to get its act together, to be consistent, at least to follow through on what they say, and do not just send workers, good and decent people in my region now, hundreds of them that are going to be sent home or they have been sent home indefinitely to just wait, and wait on what, I do not know.

I called the Secretary today and he said he would meet me about it next week. I am asking for some answers. I am asking for consistency. I am asking for some solutions for the folks of East Tennessee and the Oak Ridge reservation that have been called on to turn these buildings around, because they are now left hanging because this administration cannot figure out exactly what it wants.

4:21 PM EDT

Ron Klink, D-PA 4th

Mr. KLINK. Mr. Chairman, I would look forward to working with my friend, the gentleman from Tennessee, because he brings to light a very real situation that we are faced with today. We are all in favor of getting these buildings cleaned up. The question is, the Federal government has not set a level, and we think a level should be set for those things that are volumetrically contaminated.

We would work with the gentleman. I know he is very serious on this. We have worked together on other issues before. This amendment does not get to the gentleman's point. This is about those things that are imported from China, from Russia, from South America, that we do not know, and as the gentleman knows, 60 percent of steel that is produced today is recycled.

They could be doing things over there that we do not know about. We want to catch it at our ports. It has nothing to do with the domestic content.

4:22 PM EDT

Zach Wamp, R-TN 3rd

Mr. WAMP. Reclaiming my time, I am in total agreement with that. I understand that. I am in support of that. I just use this opportunity to say, please, Administration, give us clear direction. Let our workers know, are we going to clean this up or not? If they do not want us to clean it up, what are we going to do with it, because we need a policy that says, let us clean up the Cold War legacy, let us put people to work and keep them to work until the job is done. Let us not pull the rug out

from under them. They are left in limbo. Even over this very weekend that is in front of us, workers in East Tennessee do not know if they are supposed to go back to work or not.

4:23 PM EDT

Steny Hoyer, D-MD 5th

Mr. HOYER. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Mr. Chairman, I share the chairman's concern, as I expressed in the last amendment, about the offset. However, this is much less of an offset of a relatively modest number. I was trying to glean carefully what the chairman was saying. I am not going to oppose this amendment. I think the gentleman's amendment is a worthwhile objective.

Again, I am hopeful that we will get the requisite number of dollars so we [Page: H6647]

can, in addition to the dollars the gentleman is seeking, which are relatively modest for this objective, we can add back into the Inspector General so we do not underfund that, because the chairman is absolutely correct, we cannot further decrease this account.

4:24 PM EDT

Frank R. Mascara, D-PA 20th

Mr. MASCARA. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Mr. Chairman, I rise today in strong support of the Klink amendment. The funds in this amendment will be used to purchase monitoring equipment by the Customs Service to ensure that contaminated metal products do not enter the United States.

Currently, Customs agents use radiation detectors to monitor possible contamination of products entering our country. However, the current equipment used by Customs agents is grossly inadequate. The current equipment employed cannot consistently detect radiation levels that are dangerous to human health. Consumers should not have to worry if their cars or their kitchen utensils are radioactive.

Mr. Chairman, this is a commonsense, nonpartisan amendment that my colleague, the gentleman from Pennsylvania, has offered. This is an issue of public health and consumer safety. We can all agree that American consumers should be confident that the products they buy are safe.

By giving the Customs Service the tools to better do their jobs, we can be sure that products entering the country are safe and free from contamination.

Therefore, I urge my colleagues to vote yes on this amendment.

4:24 PM EDT

Frank R. Mascara, D-PA 20th

Mr. MASCARA. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the requisite number of words.

Mr. Chairman, I rise today in strong support of the Klink amendment. The funds in this amendment will be used to purchase monitoring equipment by the Customs Service to ensure that contaminated metal products do not enter the United States.

Currently, Customs agents use radiation detectors to monitor possible contamination of products entering our country. However, the current equipment used by Customs agents is grossly inadequate. The current equipment employed cannot consistently detect radiation levels that are dangerous to human health. Consumers should not have to worry if their cars or their kitchen utensils are radioactive.

Mr. Chairman, this is a commonsense, nonpartisan amendment that my colleague, the gentleman from Pennsylvania, has offered. This is an issue of public health and consumer safety. We can all agree that American consumers should be confident that the products they buy are safe.

By giving the Customs Service the tools to better do their jobs, we can be sure that products entering the country are safe and free from contamination.

Therefore, I urge my colleagues to vote yes on this amendment.

4:25 PM EDT

Earl Blumenauer, D-OR 3rd

Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

Mr. Chairman, the most powerful tool the Federal government has to make our communities more livable is not necessarily a rule, regulation, or a mandate placed upon the public, but simply to play by the same rules as the rest of America, to have Federal agencies like the United States Post Office obey the same rules and regulations that we require homeowners and businesses to follow.

There are over 40,000 post offices across America. They are both the symbols of how we connect to one another and of a very real part of each and every community. Time and time again we find that the post office on Main Street anchors the business opportunity. It is a source of pride for people in local communities. Often it is an historic structure.

Each of these post offices is an opportunity for the Federal government to promote livability by being a more constructive partner. While there are many legitimate efforts and real progress by the postal service in some areas, I see too many examples where the post office has fallen short of the mark.

A good example is to be found in my own hometown of Portland, Oregon, where land use planning has been a hallmark for a generation. There is perhaps no American community that has worked harder to manage growth. Most recently, our community has finished a 20-40 growth plan to prepare for growth over the next 40 years. It involved over 17,000 citizens, businesses, and all the local governments for 5 years.

Yet, the postal service, with over 500 facilities in a fast-growing region, acknowledging that it is playing serious catch-up, made no attempt to coordinate its facilities with the planning of the rest of the community.

Knowing where growth would be concentrated in the years ahead would have enabled the postal service to make strategic facilities decisions in a way that would take advantage of change, rather than trying to continue to play catch-up. The Federal government cannot afford to pursue independent strategies on its own. Opportunities in this case were lost for coordinated planning to avoid mistakes and save money, time, and effort.

Too often the postal service uses its exemption from local land use laws to avoid making investments that would be prudent not just for the community but for its own customers. Again, in my own community, I had a post office under construction where the city received a communication from the postal service that they would not cooperate with us because they were immune from all local laws.

Despite the fact that any other business or the city itself would have been required to, for instance, put in pedestrian sidewalks, the postal service decided they would not even accede to this modest requirement. We got them to put in half the sidewalks only by threatening to block the entrance to their facility.

To assist the post office in partnering with communities, I have introduced the Community Partnership Act, which would require the postal service to obey local land use laws and planning laws and environmental regulations and to work with local citizens before they make decisions that could have a wrenching effect on communities.

It is ironic that our postal service gives the public more input into what version of the Elvis stamp we are going to print than on decisions that could be literally life or death for small town America.

I am pleased that our legislation, H.R. 670, has a Senate companion bill by Senators BAUCUS and JEFFORDS, and that they have attracted a broad coalition of supporters, including Governors, mayors, cities and counties, a host of preservation action groups, and I believe is the only environmental priority of both the National Association of Homebuilders and the Sierra Club.

With its 240 bipartisan sponsors, this bill would easily pass if it were brought to the floor for a vote. I will continue to work with the bill's supporters on and off the Hill, and hope that we can achieve floor action.

But in the meantime, I would hope that the leadership of this Chamber and the conferees on the Postal-Treasury bill would at least include language that would encourage the postal service to, at a minimum, make public their capital plans for communities as a result of their 5-year capital investment plan.

[Time: 16:30]

In Blackshear, Georgia, last year, the public was notified that their post office might be moved in less than a month. The service management delivered the verdict that it would be closed, a new one would be built, and a new site was chosen on a highway away from town.

Now a great fight has ensued with the Rotary Club, the chamber of commerce, the American Legion, their local historical society, both the Republicans and the Democrats joining with over 1,000 postal patrons in opposing the move.

4:25 PM EDT

Earl Blumenauer, D-OR 3rd

Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Chairman, I move to strike the last word.

Mr. Chairman, the most powerful tool the Federal government has to make our communities more livable is not necessarily a rule, regulation, or a mandate placed upon the public, but simply to play by the same rules as the rest of America, to have Federal agencies like the United States Post Office obey the same rules and regulations that we require homeowners and businesses to follow.

There are over 40,000 post offices across America. They are both the symbols of how we connect to one another and of a very real part of each and every community. Time and time again we find that the post office on Main Street anchors the business opportunity. It is a source of pride for people in local communities. Often it is an historic structure.

Each of these post offices is an opportunity for the Federal government to promote livability by being a more constructive partner. While there are many legitimate efforts and real progress by the postal service in some areas, I see too many examples where the post office has fallen short of the mark.

A good example is to be found in my own hometown of Portland, Oregon, where land use planning has been a hallmark for a generation. There is perhaps no American community that has worked harder to manage growth. Most recently, our community has finished a 20-40 growth plan to prepare for growth over the next 40 years. It involved over 17,000 citizens, businesses, and all the local governments for 5 years.

Yet, the postal service, with over 500 facilities in a fast-growing region, acknowledging that it is playing serious catch-up, made no attempt to coordinate its facilities with the planning of the rest of the community.

Knowing where growth would be concentrated in the years ahead would have enabled the postal service to make strategic facilities decisions in a way that would take advantage of change, rather than trying to continue to play catch-up. The Federal government cannot afford to pursue independent strategies on its own. Opportunities in this case were lost for coordinated planning to avoid mistakes and save money, time, and effort.

Too often the postal service uses its exemption from local land use laws to avoid making investments that would be prudent not just for the community but for its own customers. Again, in my own community, I had a post office under construction where the city received a communication from the postal service that they would not cooperate with us because they were immune from all local laws.

Despite the fact that any other business or the city itself would have been required to, for instance, put in pedestrian sidewalks, the postal service decided they would not even accede to this modest requirement. We got them to put in half the sidewalks only by threatening to block the entrance to their facility.

To assist the post office in partnering with communities, I have introduced the Community Partnership Act, which would require the postal service to obey local land use laws and planning laws and environmental regulations and to work with local citizens before they make decisions that could have a wrenching effect on communities.

It is ironic that our postal service gives the public more input into what version of the Elvis stamp we are going to print than on decisions that could be literally life or death for small town America.

I am pleased that our legislation, H.R. 670, has a Senate companion bill by Senators BAUCUS and JEFFORDS, and that they have attracted a broad coalition of supporters, including Governors, mayors, cities and counties, a host of preservation action groups, and I believe is the only environmental priority of both the National Association of Homebuilders and the Sierra Club.

With its 240 bipartisan sponsors, this bill would easily pass if it were brought to the floor for a vote. I will continue to work with the bill's supporters on and off the Hill, and hope that we can achieve floor action.

But in the meantime, I would hope that the leadership of this Chamber and the conferees on the Postal-Treasury bill would at least include language that would encourage the postal service to, at a minimum, make public their capital plans for communities as a result of their 5-year capital investment plan.

[Time: 16:30]

In Blackshear, Georgia, last year, the public was notified that their post office might be moved in less than a month. The service management delivered the verdict that it would be closed, a new one would be built, and a new site was chosen on a highway away from town.

Now a great fight has ensued with the Rotary Club, the chamber of commerce, the American Legion, their local historical society, both the Republicans and the Democrats joining with over 1,000 postal patrons in opposing the move.