Congress

Obama signs bill by California’s Rep. Denham to get rid of surplus federal properties

Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., is responsible for a bill that President Obama just signed into law that encourages the federal government to get rid of surplus properties.
Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Calif., is responsible for a bill that President Obama just signed into law that encourages the federal government to get rid of surplus properties. AP

President Barack Obama on Friday signed long-sought legislation by Rep. Jeff Denham, a Republican of Turlock, Calif., designed to help Uncle Sam slim down by shedding excess property.

Years in the making, the Federal Assets Sale and Transfer Act of 2016 is described as a way to “decrease the deficit by consolidating and selling federal buildings and other civilian real property.” It might also be described as a model of persistence, as Denham introduced his first version five years ago.

“Unused and under-utilized federal properties have been draining on our economy for years,” Denham said on re-introducing the bill this Congress.

The newly signed law targets some of the 2.5 billion square feet of building space and associated real estate that the federal government owns and operates at a cost that exceeded $22 billion in 2014.

The measure would establish a Public Buildings Reform Board whose members would have six years to identify unneeded, surplus federal properties suitable for sale.

Certain properties are excluded from consideration for disposal, including military installations, post offices and “properties used in connection with federal programs for agricultural, recreational, or conservation purposes,” among others.

Michael Doyle: 202-383-6153, @MichaelDoyle10

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