Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Markup on H.R. 2668, H.R. 2919, H.R. 1734 and H.R. 2840

Date: Thursday, October 13, 2011 Time: 08:15 AM

There was no video broadcast for this event.


Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Markup to consider the following bills and other legislative business:

  • H.R. 2668, The “Brian A. Terry Memorial Act”       
  • H.R. 2919, The “Community Shelter Protection Act of 2011”
  • H.R. 1734, The “Civilian Property Realignment Act”
  • H.R. 2840, The “Commercial Vessel Discharges Reform Act of 2011”

Other matters cleared for consideration.

Thursday, October 13, 2011; 11:15 AM

2167 Rayburn House Office Building



Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure
October 13, 2011

Mr. Chairman, I would like to take this opportunity to make some observations regarding the subject matter of today’s meeting and the process this committee has engaged in.

Americans are worried about jobs.  And that is something this committee could do something about.  We should provide for stable, long-term funding for airport construction and move forward with a robust surface transportation bill.  Yet, the House has yet to appoint conferees on the FAA bill.  And I see no real action on a highway and transit bill.

Instead, this committee is spending an inordinate amount of time on expanding the National Gallery of Art.  Today marks the third time the committee will consider this proposal.  The last two times I remained silent.  But I cannot do so any longer due to the context in which this matter is being brought up.

The gentleman from California, Mr. Denham, started off with a product that we could work with, what we refer to as the Civilian BRAC bill.  But that measure has been high jacked. 

It now includes a proposal to sell off the Department of Energy’s building.  Where did that come from?  Who knows?  The substitute was posted on the committee’s website only yesterday. 

We have not had a hearing on this proposal.  We have not had a meeting on this issue.  We have not even had a phone conversation.  Yet today, we are considering a provision to sell off the Energy Department’s headquarters. 

Maybe it is a good thing.  I simply do not know.  But I would say to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who campaigned on greater transparency, you have been ambushed today.

Also included in the Civilian BRAC bill, as I mentioned earlier, is the kick the FTC out of their building and give it to the National Gallery of Art provision.  The third time it has been before us. 

This time in a bill that would eliminate the preference homeless shelter providers have to acquire excess federal property.  So what is the message here? 

It seems to me what this bill says is that we are going to expand the National Gallery of Art for those who can afford to travel to Washington, DC, to enjoy their masterpieces, but homeless people, no more shelters for you.  Sleep on the streets.  Marie Antionette would have loved this bill.  Let them eat cake.

I would also like to raise the fact that over the course of this entire year, not a single bill requested by the minority has been scheduled for markup. 

The chairman is concerned about the Smithsonian Art Gallery, well I too have concerns with the Smithsonian.  About all of the Made in China items offered in its gift shops. 

Thomas Jefferson, Made in China.  The U.S. Flag, Made in China.  I have a bill to address this.  To create American jobs.  The gift shop in the U.S. Capitol only offers items Made in America.  I think the same should apply to the Smithsonian.  Yet when I request this bill be considered by the committee, I am told no.

There is another bill scheduled for consideration today, to amend the Stafford Act – the FEMA statute – relating to school shelters.

I have no problems with this bill, but I also have a bill to amend the Stafford Act, to provide for a government-to-government relationship between federally recognized Indian Tribes and FEMA when it comes to disaster assistance.  I have asked for this bill to be considered.  But I am denied.

The gentlelady from the District of Columbia, Eleanor Norton, has a bill relating to the Potomac River Washington Channel.  We have asked for this bill to be considered since the first markup held by this committee this year.  In return, we receive no response.

I raise these issues Mr. Chairman, with the desire, with the hope, that this situation will be remedied.  Thank you.