Friday, May 27, 2011

House Approves Its Defense Authorization Bill

The House Thursday approved its version of the fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill.

Several provisions in H.R. 1540 would increase the likelihood that growth communities like JBLM’s will be able to obtain federal funds to alleviate traffic congestion outside the gates.

One would expand DOD’s authority to use military construction appropriations to mitigate impacts on local roads stemming from mission growth. The Secretary of Defense would have to determine “the magnitude of the required improvements without regard to the extent to which traffic generated by the reservation is greater than other traffic in the vicinity of the reservation.”

The measure also calls for DOD to convene the Economic Adjustment Committee to consider additional sources of funding for the Defense Access Roads program, which provides a mechanism for DOD to fund public road improvements required as the result of defense-generated impacts. The SecDef would be required to submit an implementation plan for expanding funding sources to mitigate significant transportation impacts to military installations.

An amendment adopted in committee would authorize the Defense Access Roads program to spend $40 million. The amendment would establish a budget line item for the Defense Access Roads program, something it currently does not have. Now projects are funded from the military construction account of the service benefiting from the improvement.

The Senate Armed Services Committee is scheduled to mark up its version of the annual policy bill next month.

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