Newhouse Praises House Passage of National Defense Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) released the following statement after voting in favor H.R. 4909, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2017, which passed the U.S. House. This legislation ensures that our men and women in uniform have the resources they need to protect and defend the United States. This legislation also governs projects under the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and sets authorization levels for legacy defense clean-up.
“The NDAA makes critical investments to rebuild our military, provide for the common defense, and give our troops the pay raise they deserve,” said Rep. Newhouse. “It provides support for the federal government to continue its legal and moral responsibility to clean up Hanford. The NDAA also makes progress on important priorities for the Tri-Cities, including the transfer of federal land to the local community for the economic benefit of the region. The bill removes deed restrictions on Port of Benton land currently inhibiting development that will create jobs and economic opportunity. I am pleased that my amendment to evaluate the McNary Shoreline land along the Columbia River for transfer to the local community was included in the final bill.”
To meet the federal government’s obligation at the Hanford Site, the NDAA authorizes funding at $769,811,000 for the Richland Operations Office (RL) and $1.4875 billion for the Office of River Protection (ORP) to continue critical defense nuclear waste cleanup at Hanford. The NDAA also contains an amendment included by Rep. Newhouse that directs the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide documentation on land it acquired in the 1940s and 1950s along the shoreline of the Columbia River that runs through the Tri-Cities. Rep. Newhouse’s amendment directs the Corps to provide a report to Congress on how the land was acquired following the Columbia River Flood of 1948 – including specific legal documentation and information on the process by which the federal government acquired the land, whether by paying Fair Market Value, condemnation, or through other means of procurement. Additionally, passage of NDAA advances H.R. 5017, the Port of Benton Restriction Release Act of 2016. This legislation had previously been approved by the House Armed Services Committee as part of the NDAA, and lifts the conveyance restrictions on a 71.5 acre parcel of land that was deeded to the Port of Benton in 1996 by the United States Maritime Administration.
Background on Port of Benton Restriction Release Act:
In April, Rep. Newhouse introduced H.R. 5017, the Port of Benton Restriction Release Act of 2016 to lift the conveyance restrictions on a 71.5 acre parcel of land that was deeded to the Port of Benton in 1996 by the United States Maritime Administration (MARAD). The text of the legislation was included in the NDAA by a vote in the House Armed Services Committee.
The Port of Benton acquired the parcel of land in 1996 when the Government Services Administration authorized the transfer from the Department of Energy (DOE) to MARAD for disposition to the Port, after the property was declared surplus to the needs of the U.S. The land, which is has been renamed the “Richland Innovation Center,” is located in the Tri-Cities region of Central Washington and is part of the Hanford nuclear reservation’s former “DOE 3000 Area.” On June 9, 2000, President Clinton established the Hanford Reach National Monument, and as a result MARAD granted the Port permission to use the property for business and commercial purposes on July 12, 2007; however, the other restrictions in the “Deed of Conveyance” remained in place. These restrictions have inhibited the Port of Benton’s ability to attract private and small business investments in the former DOE 3000 Area. In accordance with the remaining restrictions, the Port is required to submit all sub-leases over five years on the property to MARAD for approval. Additionally, the Port is required to submit annual reports to MARAD for the parcel. This property is not located next to navigable and therefore no longer serves the purpose for which it was originally conveyed under MARAD’s maritime economic development program.