|Date:||21 Mar 1995 09:07:37|
|Subject:||Senate cuts defense cleanup|
Posting from Gawain Kripke <gkripke@Essential.ORG> To: Interested Colleagues From: Gawain Kripke, Friends of the Earth Date: March 21, 1995 RE: Senate passes rescission of cleanup funding After a week of wrangling over an amendment on stiker replacement, the Senate enacted its version of the Defense supplemental spending bill (H.R. 889) last Thursday, March 16. The vote was an overwhelming 97-3. Senator Boxer (D-CA) made a spirited, and brave, critique of the bill and voted against it. (See excerpt below) The bill cuts $300 million from the Defense Environmental Restoration Account which funds cleanups at military facilities. Before passing the bill, the Senate quickly, and without a vote or significant debate, passed several amendments. As far as I can tell, the only one related to environmental cleanups is a Feinstein amendment to assure that closing bases are not affected by the DERA cuts. (See excerpt below) Now the House and Senate must negotiate the differences between the bill each has passed. There are many differences. The House bill provides $3.2 billion for the DOD while the Senate provides $1.9 billion. The House took a large portion of the offsetting rescissions from non-defense programs while the Senate was much more modest. The House rescinded $150 million from DERA while the Senate cut $300 million. The process requires that the House and Senate each appoint "conferees" to meet and negotiate on the bills in a conference. They will negotiate a "conference report" which will then be sent to the House and Senate for approval. It is unusual, although not unheard of, for the conference report to be rejected. The legislation will then be sent to the President who either signs it into law or vetoes it. The Administration has given no indication that a veto of this bill is likely. Supporters of the defense cleanup programs will ask the conferees, both House and Senate, to agree to the House position on DERA ($150 million cut). There is a strong incentive agree to the Senate position ($300 million cut) because that provides more money to play with for other purposes. The House conferees have not been named as yet. The Senate conferees are; Mr. Hatfield, Mr. Stevens, Mr. Cochran, Mr. Gramm, Mr. Domenici, Mr. McConnell, Mr. Gorton, Mr. Specter, Mr. Bond, Mr. Burns, Mr. Byrd, Mr. Inouye, Mr. Hollings, Mr. Johnston, Mr. Leahy, Mr. Harkin, Mr. Lautenberg, Ms. Mikulski and Mr. Reid. The conference will happen in the next few weeks. BEGIN EXCERPTS FROM CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, MARCH 16 (Please bear in mind that these are excerpts and not full transcriptions. Quote at your own risk.) PAGE S4059 AMENDMENT NO. 346 (PURPOSE: TO PROVIDE THAT THE RESCISSION FROM THE ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION DEFENSE ACCOUNT SHALL NOT AFFECT EXPENDITURES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL RESTORATION AT INSTALLATIONS PROPOSED FOR CLOSURE OR REALIGNMENT IN THE 1995 ROUND OF THE BASE CLOSURE PROCESS) Mr. INOUYE offered amendment No. 346 for Mrs. Feinstein. PAGE S4059 The amendment is as follows: On page 25, between lines 4 and 5, insert the following new section: Sec. 110. (a) In determining the amount of funds available for obligation from the Environmental Restoration, Defense, account in fiscal year 1995 for environmental restoration at the military installations described in subsection (b), the Secretary of Defense shall not take into account the rescission from the account set forth in section 106. (b) Subsection (a) applies to military installations that the Secretary recommends for closure or realignment in 1995 under section 2903(c) of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Act of 1990 (subtitle A of title XXIX of Public Law 101-510; 10 U.S.C. 2687 note). AMENDMENT TO PROTECT MILITARY BASES Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Madam President, I rise today to offer an amendment that would protect military bases recommended for closure or realignment in 1995 from the proposed rescission in the Defense Environmental Restoration Account (DERA). I urge my colleagues to support this important amendment. PAGE S4059 As many of my colleagues know, DERA funds are used to clean up environmental contamination at open military bases. Because, the military is subject to Federal and State environmental laws and regulations just like private parties, the Department of Defense has an obligation to clean up its military bases, whether the bases will remain open or will close due to the base realignment and closure process. I strongly support DERA efforts and am concerned about the proposed $300 million rescission in this appropriation bill. But, I understand that the supplemental funding is extremely important to ensure the readiness of our Armed Forces and protect U.S. national security. Because the Appropriations Committee has decided to fully offset the increase in funding with spending cuts, difficult decisions need to be made. I remain hopeful, however, that the severe cut in DERA funds can be mitigated in conference. I am particularly concerned about the impact of the DERA rescission on bases that have been recommended for closure or realignment in the current base closure round. Normally, cleanup at closing military bases is funded out of the base realignment and closure (BRAC) account. However, in the first year of a closure - before BRAC cleanup funds are available - environmental cleanup at closing military bases is funded from DERA. PAGE S4059 Military bases slated for closure must be closed within 6 years of the closure decision, therefore, it is important that environmental cleanup not be delayed to ensure the timely and effective reuse of bases. Environmental cleanup is vital to assisting impacted communities with economic redevelopment efforts. This amendment would protect bases recommended for closure or realignment in 1995 from any funding cuts in DERA. The rescission would still take place, but at least for the first year until BRAC funding kicks in, closing bases would not be impacted. This amendment would simply ensure that the timetable for cleaning up and closing a military base is not adversely impacted. I urge my colleagues to support this amendment. PAGE S4059 Mr. INOUYE. Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the amendments be considered and agreed to, en bloc; that the motions to reconsider be laid upon the table, en bloc; and that statements relative to the amendments be printed in the Record as though read. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. So the amendments (Nos. 342 through 346) were agreed to. PAGE S4067 Mrs. BOXER. Madam President, after much thought and analysis, I have decided to oppose this bill. I have made this decision for one simple reason: on balance, I believe this bill is bad for California and bad for the Nation. I support the supplemental appropriations contained in this bill, which cover the costs of unbudgeted contingencies in Somalia, Bosnia, and Haiti. However, I believe that these unplanned operations should have been treated by the committee as emergency requirements, as requested by the Department of Defense. PAGE S4068 Having elected to recommend supplemental funding without the emergency designation, the committee was obligated to find offsetting rescissions. Regrettably, the committee has recommended for rescission in this bill programs that are vital to the defense of our country and to the economic security of the State of California. The cuts made in environmental cleanup programs and in research and development programs like the Technology Reinvestment Project, or TRP, are wrong for this country and wrong for California. I cannot support these reckless cuts, Madam President, and I will not. This bill contains a $300 million rescission for DERA, the Defense Environmental Restoration Account - twice the cut passed by the House. What would this rescission mean for the State of California? PAGE S4068 At the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Barstow, efforts to clean contaminated groundwater could be delayed. Soil contaminated with heavy metals, petroleum hydrocarbons, pesticides, and herbicides may not be removed. At the Concord Naval Weapons Station in the bay area, cutting DERA means delaying cleanup on polluted tidal and inland areas. If this rescission is enacted, contaminated water and soil may sit idle so we can say we did the responsible thing by ensuring that every dollar in this bill was offset by a rescission somewhere else in the Pentagon budget. But that`s not really the responsible thing. The responsible thing to do is not create an environmental hazard in the first place, but if you do, you clean it up, and you clean it up fast. I want to make a final point on this DERA rescission. Earlier this month, the Department of Defense announced which military bases it wants to close in the 1995 BRAC round. California was hit again. One major base was recommended for closure and several other installations face realignment. I will fight hard for those bases and get their positive stories out. But if those installations stay on the list, I want the contaminated sites at those bases cleaned up as fast as possible so the communities can do something productive with that land. PAGE S4068 In the 1995 base closure round, unlike previous rounds, environmental cleanup will be funded by the DERA account. That is the very same account that this bill proposes cutting by $300 million. So I would say to all Senators, if you have a base in your State that may be scheduled for closure this year, think long and hard about cutting $300 million from the Department`s primary environmental cleanup account. Believe me, you do not want to find yourself in a situation where the military is moving out, but the community cannot move in because of environmental contamination. California has been in that situation too often, and it is very, very unpleasant. The Senate considered an amendment last week offered by Senator McCain to reduce the rescission in this bill for environmental cleanup funding by increasing the cut for the Technology Reinvestment Project, or TRP. I opposed that amendment not because of the DERA increase - which I support - but because of the draconian TRP cut. That amendment presented the Senate with an impossible choice: allow deep rescissions in DERA or kill the Technology Reinvestment Project outright. PAGE S4068 However, even without the McCain amendment, this bill rescinds $200 million from the Technology Reinvestment Project. To be sure, this is better than the House rescission of $500 million, which would kill the program, but the Senate rescission will badly damage this critically needed program. Research and development is the key to maintaining our military advantage in the future. But the Department of Defense can no longer afford to maintain its own private research industrial base. We must gain access to the commercial technology sector, which in many ways out performs the defense technology base. We must gain access to this commercial technology in the most cost effective way possible - ensuring the public the greatest value for its tax dollar. The TRP achieves these goals. Let me cite just one example. The TRP has funded a proposal led by the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District to develop an advanced automated train control system. Like all TRP projects, this grant is matched at least 50-50 by the private sector. For every dollar the government spends, the consortium led by BART spends at least one dollar. PAGE S4068 This technology currently being developed by the BART will allow system operators to know exactly where there trains are - even underground in tunnels. This allows trains to operate more safely and in closer proximity. Reducing separation distance between trains allows the BART to have more cars in service at the same time, which doubles passenger carrying capacity. Critics of the TRP complain vociferously about projects like the BART train control system. `What has that got to do with national security?`, they say. The BART train control system has everything to do with national security. This project is based on the Army`s Enhanced Position Location Reporting System, which is designed to enable commanders on the battlefield S 4069 to collect vital information about the location of troops in real time. The National Economic Council estimates that the technology developed by the BART`s TRP project may improve the Enhanced Position Locator and at the same time, reduce its cost by up to 40 percent. PAGE S4068 So what does this TRP project do for our country? For private industry, it provides a chance to break into a market dominated by foreign companies, perhaps creating thousands of American jobs and strengthening our economy. For the Department of Defense, it offers a better and cheaper way to collect battlefield information in real time - information that may save soldiers` lives. And for the people of San Francisco, this project provides safer, faster, and more efficient public transportation. This TRP grant creates a win-win-win situation - one that is being duplicated with similar projects around the country. The TRP is a model dual-use program. It should be expanded and emulated, not cut to the point that its very existence is jeopardized. To offset the supplemental appropriations made in this bill, the committee has recommended rescinding environmental cleanup, the TRP and other high priority projects. I find it difficult to believe that less important offsets could not be found in the $260 billion Pentagon budget. Consider this: the Congressional Budget Office estimates that at the end of fiscal year 1995, more than $19 billion will remain unobligated in the Pentagon`s procurement accounts. PAGE S4068 Surely, that $19 billion fund is large enough to offset the funds this bill would cut from environmental cleanup and the TRP. Simply cutting unobligated procurement funds by 3 percent would generate more than enough savings to offset the TRP and environmental cleanup rescission contained in this bill. I hope that when this bill is considered in conference committee, the Senate managers will take a very close look at these unobligated accounts and try to find a way to minimize the damage done to the very important TRP and DERA accounts. I also want to serve notice, Madam President, to those who would eliminate all defense reinvestment and environmental cleanup in the Pentagon budget. That must not happen. PAGE S4068 Defense reinvestment must remain a national priority for the security of our country and our communities. Environmental cleanup is the moral, ethical, and in many cases, legal responsibility of the Department of Defense, and its must continue. When the Senate debates the budget in the spring and when it debates the annual defense bills later in the year, these issues will certainly be revisited. Rest assured that I and other concerned Senators will continue to voice their strong support for these vitally needed programs. Finally Madam President, I must express my profound disappointment that the Senate accepted an amendment offered by Senator Hutchison to rescind funding needed to protect endangered species. PAGE S4068 This amendment is an irresponsible approach to some very real problems. It is clearly a first step in a piecemeal dismantling of the Endangered Species Act. It is important to note that this amendment was offered while the Committee on Environment and Public Works was diligently working on a bill offered by the Senator from Texas that was substantially similar to her amendment. I believe that the wiser course would have been to work cooperatively with the committee, under the able leadership of Senator Chafee, to find a mutually satisfactory solution to this important problem. The rescission of $1.5 million from the Fish and Wildlife Service listing budget for 1995, combined with the restriction on remaining funds, effectively kills the Endangered Species Act listing process for 1995. This could cause some species to become extinct and surely will delay solving the very real problems that need attention. This is a irresponsible action, which I strongly oppose. PAGE S4068 For all these reasons, I must oppose this bill. Mr. INOUYE. Madam President, I have been told that we are now ready for final passage. PAGE S4070 The PRESIDING OFFICER. If there be no further amendment to be proposed, the question is on the engrossment of the amendments and third reading of the bill. The amendments were ordered to be engrossed, and the bill to be read a third time. Mr. INOUYE. Madam President, I ask for the yeas and nays on final passage. PAGE S4070 The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second? There is a sufficient second. The yeas and nays were ordered PAGE S4070 The PRESIDING OFFICER. The bill having been read the third time, the question is, Shall the bill pass? The yeas and nays have been ordered, and the clerk will call the roll. The bill clerk called the roll. PAGE S4070 The PRESIDING OFFICER. Are there any other Senators in the Chamber desiring to vote? The result was announced - yeas 97, nays 3, as follows: (ROLLCALL VOTE NO. 108 LEG.) YEAS - 97 Abraham Akaka Ashcroft Baucus Bennett Biden Bingaman Bond Bradley Breaux Brown Bryan Bumpers Burns Byrd Campbell Chafee Coats Cochran Cohen Conrad Coverdell Craig D`Amato Daschle DeWine Dodd Dole Domenici Dorgan Exon Faircloth Feingold Feinstein Ford Frist Glenn Gorton Graham Gramm Grams Grassley Gregg Harkin Hatch Hatfield Heflin Helms Hutchison Inhofe Inouye Jeffords Johnston Kassebaum Kempthorne Kennedy Kerrey Kerry Kohl Kyl Lautenberg Leahy Levin Lieberman Lott Lugar Mack McCain McConnell Mikulski Moseley-Braun Moynihan Murkowski Murray Nickles Nunn Packwood Pell Pressler Reid Robb Rockefeller Roth Santorum Sarbanes Shelby Simon Simpson Smith Snowe Specter Stevens Thomas Thompson Thurmond Warner Wellstone NAYS - 3 Boxer Hollings Pryor The motion to lay on the table was agreed to. The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Gorton). Without objection, it is so ordered. Mr. HATFIELD. Mr. President, I move the Senate insist on its amendments and request a conference with the House on the disagreeing votes of the two Houses, and that the Chair be authorized to appoint the conferees on the part of the Senate.
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