Republican Jeff Denham says that surplus properties are a drain on treasury. A long-stalled bill, Denham has managed to give it a much-needed push and now has key democrats backing him up. According to this bill, the federal government would need to shed 250,000 buildings to reduce the drain on treasury.
According to thenewstribune.com:
“Resurrecting a potentially important but unglamorous effort, Denham is pushing revised legislation designed to speed the sale or transfer of surplus federal assets. He’s gained new allies, yet faces familiar hurdles.”
Denham also acknowledged in an interview that he expects to face challenges working with the Senate. But then, who doesn’t?
Rep. Jeff Denham was also quoted to as saying:
“My bill will save us billions . . . so that taxpayers no longer have to foot the bill for keeping the lights on in empty buildings.”
Denham’s bill, called the Federal Assets Sale and Transfer Act of 2016 (FAST Act), was introduced earlier this month. The bill proposes to sell or transfer some of the 2.5 billion square feet of building space and real estate that the federal government owns and operates at a cost that exceeded $22 billion in 2014.
If the bill were passed, the legislation would establish a Public Buildings Reform Board that would have six years to identify the excess federal properties suitable for sale. As of 2014, these properties were valued at a whooping $8 billion.
However, some of these properties are exempted according to Denham’s bill. Military installations, post offices and buildings used for “agricultural, recreational, or conservational” purposes are exempted, as are properties dealing with flood control, reclamation and power projects.
Denham has better luck this time though. In a twist to the story, three-house Democratic co-sponsors from Oregon, Maryland and Indiana who had voted against his previous bill have supported his bill this time.
The Obama administration however, is yet to take a stand on this new bill. They had voted against the previous bill because they felt it had excluded too many properties. The present bill also has similar exclusions.
Help for the Homeless
Denham has also gained the support and appreciation of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP). Denham’s bill contains changes to Title V of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
What would that entail?
The law requires federal facilities to report surplus or under-utilized federal properties. What happens then is that homeless assistance organizations will be given the right of first refusal, wherein they can acquire these surplus federal properties to provide housing and other important facilities to the homeless. A definite win-win situation, isn’t it?
This law isn’t new though. This provision has been in place since President Reagan signed it into a law in 1987. Since then, more than 500 federal properties have been disbursed to provide 2.4 million Americans with assistance. So, what’s different with Denham’s bill?
According to goldrushcam.com:
“Rep. Denham’s bipartisan FAST Act alters the process for the selling of federal properties, shrinking the size of government, eliminating waste, and saving taxpayers billions of dollars. The bill establishes an independent board to identify federal properties to be sold and consolidated.”
Denham’s bill streamlines an old take on homelessness in America. It proposes to save taxpayers millions, and at the same time helps give something back to the American people. This bill will remove the homeless off the street, and provide them with the shelters they need and deserve.
IMHO, this gives Rep. Jeff Denham a bunch of brownie points!