1:14 PM EDT

Earl Blumenauer, D-OR 3rd

Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself 2 minutes.

Mr. Chairman, first, let me begin by expressing my deep appreciation to the subcommittee for their work in providing an increase over the President's request for funding base cleanup. And particularly what we're talking about here are the legacy locations, places that have been closed in previous BRAC cycles, 1995, 1993, 1991, 1988. However, as we consider this appropriations act, I am concerned that we continue to dramatically underfund our commitment to communities impacted by these past BRAC

rounds.

[Time: 13:15]

These communities are ones that have been penalized twice. They are penalized when the base is closed, and second, they are penalized because they are unable to make use of the land left behind because of hazardous contamination caused by unexploded ordnance.

According to the most recent Defense Environmental Programs' annual report, there is an estimated $3.5 billion backlog for environmental cleanup of these bases. This represents over 140,000 acres of land that remain unusable by local communities for economic development across this country.

At the current levels, Mr. Chairman, we are facing people who went through the trauma of base closure in 1988, for instance, in Sacramento; they are going to wait over 60 years to be cleaned up.

I appreciate the words of the subcommittee Chair and ranking member [Page: H6537]

in terms of what they are trying to do with the difficult issues regarding BRAC, and I appreciate there is a very generous number that have been established, maybe not completely adequate, to try and deal with the people who were just whacked in the last round of closure. But, for heaven's sake, we need to keep our commitments to the communities that have worked in good faith, that had

their bases closed 5 years, 10 years, 15 years ago, and still are awaiting our meeting, our commitment to them.

I strongly urge support of the amendment that I have introduced with Ms. Ginny Brown-Waite.

1:16 PM EDT

Chet Edwards, D-TX 17th

Mr. EDWARDS. Mr. Chairman, while I cannot support this amendment, I want to thank Mr. Blumenauer and Mr. Farr for having led the fight in Congress to bring to every Member's attention the terribly important need to better fund the cleanup of past military sites that have been closed as a result of base realignment and closing process.

There is a $3.5 billion backlog for the BRAC 1990 round 17 years ago. For those communities that have been a partner in defending our Nation, we owe it to them morally to see that we provide the adequate funds to allow those sites to be cleaned up so they can be utilized in a productive manner on behalf of their communities.

The reason I can't support the amendment and will oppose it is because of the outlay technicalities, the gentleman actually has to cut $200 million from the BRAC 2005 account in order to fund additional $50 million for the BRAC 1990 account. So that outlay problem could create great problems by cutting funding for BRAC 2005 in order to help the cleanup of BRAC 1990. We could inadvertently make it more difficult to have barracks ready for troops coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan to their homes

here in the United States. It might be more difficult to have military training facilities, necessary at new Army bases, built. So, I oppose this.

But even as I oppose this amendment, I want to thank the gentleman. He has done every community in this country a service, along with Mr. Farr. Every community that has continued waiting 17 years after the 1990 BRAC round has suffered from the fact that the Congress and the administrations have not adequately funded this. It is time we work with the administration and ask them to increase that funding.

Because of the Members' strong support, Mr. Blumenauer and Mr. Farr, we have provided $271 million for the 1990 BRAC round, and that is an increase of $50 million, or a 23 percent increase over the administration's budget request, recognizing that budget request, in my personal opinion, was inadequate.

Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.

1:19 PM EDT

Sam Farr, D-CA 17th

Mr. FARR. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding. I want to first of all compliment the chairman for adding an additional $50 million.

What every Member of Congress ought to worry about is that we have so many bases that have been closed in the United States that have not been able to finish their cleanup. That means that they can't do economic development. They just sit there with fences around them because they have unexploded ordnances. It is what they call ``warm basing'' a property. Mayor and city councils and local government folks are furious about this.

There is a $3.5 billion cleanup necessary. What Mr. Blumenauer is saying is, let's just put $50 million more towards that. That will go a long way toward getting those high-priority communities cleaned up.

Frankly, there is no movement that can be taken until this is done, because the only government that can clean up unexploded ordnances is the Federal Government. You can't delegate it out. It can't be a State or local issue.

If you want to do economic development in your States and home communities which have been affected by these numerous base closings over the years, for those of you that have base closures, just the recent base closure, there is a separate account. But the reason we have to put more money into this is, there are only two ways of getting money into there, either from sales of property or from direct appropriations. The sales of property haven't filled up this account. So the only way, if we are

going to address the unexploded ordnance cleanup, to amend the bill is to add an additional $50 million. It is urgent for economic development at the local level. It is good government.

Mr. Chairman, I ask for an ``aye'' vote.

1:19 PM EDT

Sam Farr, D-CA 17th

Mr. FARR. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding. I want to first of all compliment the chairman for adding an additional $50 million.

What every Member of Congress ought to worry about is that we have so many bases that have been closed in the United States that have not been able to finish their cleanup. That means that they can't do economic development. They just sit there with fences around them because they have unexploded ordnances. It is what they call ``warm basing'' a property. Mayor and city councils and local government folks are furious about this.

There is a $3.5 billion cleanup necessary. What Mr. Blumenauer is saying is, let's just put $50 million more towards that. That will go a long way toward getting those high-priority communities cleaned up.

Frankly, there is no movement that can be taken until this is done, because the only government that can clean up unexploded ordnances is the Federal Government. You can't delegate it out. It can't be a State or local issue.

If you want to do economic development in your States and home communities which have been affected by these numerous base closings over the years, for those of you that have base closures, just the recent base closure, there is a separate account. But the reason we have to put more money into this is, there are only two ways of getting money into there, either from sales of property or from direct appropriations. The sales of property haven't filled up this account. So the only way, if we are

going to address the unexploded ordnance cleanup, to amend the bill is to add an additional $50 million. It is urgent for economic development at the local level. It is good government.

Mr. Chairman, I ask for an ``aye'' vote.

1:21 PM EDT

Chet Edwards, D-TX 17th

Mr. EDWARDS. Mr. Chairman, I yield to the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Crenshaw), a leader on our Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.

1:21 PM EDT

Ander Crenshaw, R-FL 4th

Mr. CRENSHAW. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Chairman, I want to rise very briefly in opposition. I share the same concern that we all share about these unexploded ordnance sites. The safety of our citizens is important, and I think our subcommittee has recognized that by stating very clearly in very strong language that the Department of Defense should make this a priority, that we should get rid of this unacceptable backlog.

But I don't think we can take money out of the 2005 round of BRAC to solve the problem. That would be like robbing Peter to pay Paul. The 2005 round of BRAC has been put together. There is already some concern that it may not be fully funded, so if we take one penny out of that pot of money and spend it somewhere else, we could upset a very delicate balance.

We have to remember we have made a commitment to our men and women in uniform. For instance, I know in my community, they are building a $129 million hangar to house all the P-3s that will come down from Maine. If there is not enough money to do that, what happens to those planes? They are stranded. What happens to the sailors that are coming? They are stranded.

So while I share everyone's concern in dealing with this backlog, I think it is inappropriate and I think it is wrong to take money which would upset that kind of balance. We have to remember not only do we care about our communities, but we care about our commitment to our men and women in uniform.

Therefore, I would rise in opposition and urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this amendment.

1:23 PM EDT

Earl Blumenauer, D-OR 3rd

Mr. BLUMENAUER. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate what my friend from Florida said, and I have no interest in robbing Peter to pay Paul. But let's take it down to a very specific example that you are familiar with in Jacksonville. You had a base closed, Cecil Naval Air Station, in a prior round. Under the current schedule, this facility is not scheduled to be cleaned up until 2026, another 19 years.

Now, you are right, we have put a significant amount of money into the 2005 round of BRAC closures. We put $5 billion in the supplemental. And you have put in this bill which I appreciate, almost $8.2 billion. But where I take modest exception with the gentleman is that you can't spend it. The payout rate is about 10 percent. I am seeking to transfer 2 percent away from areas that you can't spend this year or next year or the year after that.

But I will distribute a list of people who have been waiting in some cases since 1988. They have plans ready to go. They are ready to clean up. If you talk to the companies that are the ordnance contractors, they are ready to go. They will clean this up. But we have got to stop the fits and the starts, where we don't follow through on our commitments.

With all due respect, if I had a facility in the 2005 BRAC cycle, I would like this Congress to start meeting its commitments from 1988 and 1990 and 1992 and 1995, because if we don't, subsequent Congresses are going to play the [Page: H6538]

same game. Because you can't spend this $13 billion, it will be dragged on and dragged out, and it will ultimately be diverted. Then we will be here, or some of you will be here, 10 years from now, and people will be wondering

why the 2005 round of BRAC is waiting, like Mather Air Force Base, for 60 years, or why people in El Toro are waiting for 30 years.

With all due respect, I would hope that the subcommittee would build on its good work, but look at the payout rate for the $13 billion you have for 2005, which we estimate maybe will be spent, 10 percent.

Join with me in shifting a modest 2 percent of that money, so that we can keep our commitments to people who have been waiting since 1988, since 1990, 1993 and 1995.

I deeply appreciate the work that the subcommittee has done, and I appreciate Mr. Edwards, you have been encouraging and helping the work that I have done in the past on this with Mr. Farr. And it is important that you put $50 million in above the administrations request but I hope we can work to keep the commitment to the people.

1:27 PM EDT

Sam Farr, D-CA 17th

Mr. FARR. Mr. Chairman, I want to just reiterate on what Mr. Blumenauer indicated. This isn't a ``rob Peter to pay Paul'' case. But if you are from the Jefferson Proving Ground, you have been waiting a long time. If you are from Fort Ord, California, where I am from and why I am really interested in this, we closed in the 1992 round, and we are doing massive economic development, and it is foreclosed if you can't get into cleaning up the unexploded ordnance. Fort Meade, Fort McClellan,

Savannah Army Depot, the list goes on and on. These are the kinds of projects that are out there, ready to go. Just take the projects off the shelf, fund them and get it done.

I am on this committee and I am very sympathetic. I am very appreciative of what the chairman has done, increasing the account by $50 million. We are going to have an amendment in a minute to cut it, which would be the worst thing we could ever do for all these reasons. Mr. Blumenauer is trying to increase it by $50 million so we could actually have enough money to get some of these projects started. I think it is good government. It is promises made, promises kept, and that is what

we ought to do.