House sets up amendment votes on bill to sell federal property

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) replied by saying he was prepared to voice-vote her amendments on Monday night, but an angry Norton said that was not the agreement as she understood it, and declined to offer her amendments.

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Denham seemed to anticipate that, and offered his own amendment that would require a 90-day review of property that could be disposed of by homeless service providers, to see if they might have a use for it. These properties would have to be no more than 25,000 square feet, or valued at less than $5 million.

Denham's amendment was approved by voice vote.

Two other Democratic amendments were also accepted to the bill, H.R. 1734, by voice vote. One was from Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), to add a sense of the Congress that the commission should provide assistance to small and minority-owned businesses.

The second, from Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.), would require the General Services Administration (GSA) to evaluate the life-cycle costs of holding the building before constructing or leasing a new building.

Another amendment, from Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), would allow the GSA to override the congressionally approved recommendations of the commission and allow property to be given at no cost to create park land. But Republicans indicated opposition to this amendment, and Connolly asked for a recorded vote, expected Tuesday.

Norton did not offer either of her amendments, apparently in protest of how the GOP handled the bill.

One would require federal agencies to compile environmental information about all property being considered for action, and provide for a limited review of property by homeless service providers. Denham's amendment was similar but did not have the environmental language.

Her other amendment would require the GSA to grant Indian tribes the option of obtaining excess federal properties directly from GSA at fair market value rather than through the Department of the Interior.