MILITARY CONSTRUCTION AND VETERANS AFFAIRS AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2012--Continued
(Senate - July 20, 2011)

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[Page S4700]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




    MILITARY CONSTRUCTION AND VETERANS AFFAIRS AND RELATED AGENCIES 
                  APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2012--Continued

  Mr. MERKLEY. Madam President, I rise to address amendment No. 570, 
offered by Senator Wyden, regarding closure of the Umatilla Chemical 
Depot. It is an amendment on which I am proud to partner with him.
  This is a very important issue to my home State of Oregon. We have a 
situation where 20 years of planning have gone forward to arrange for 
the final transition of this chemical depot based on the 
recommendations of the Base Closure and Realignment Commission. Indeed, 
the BRAC Commission, as it is known, noted:

       On completion of the chemical demilitarization mission in 
     accordance with treaty obligations, close Umatilla Chemical 
     Depot, Oregon.

  This was language that was specifically done to recognize that the 
chemical depot had to complete its work dismantling the chemical 
weapons stored there according to the Chemical Weapons Convention 
Treaty. That treaty had a deadline of April 29, 2012, and thus it 
wasn't clear that the work would be done within the 6 years outlined 
for most of the BRAC's work. So they changed the language from ``close 
the Umatilla Chemical Depot'' to ``on completion of the chemical 
demilitarization mission in accordance with treaty obligations.''
  So since this has been a discussion for so long, with the community 
working so hard with so many stakeholders in order to put the plans 
together to transition this base to a productive civilian role, it came 
as a complete shock recently when the community was notified by the 
Army that, despite the specific language that accommodated the treaty 
deadline of April 2012, they were going to rule that the transfer under 
the BRAC legislation could not be completed because it was an 
exception--even an exception written into the law--to the initial 6 
years.
  It was quite a shock because a local reuse authority has been formed 
and has been working hard with representatives from all local 
stakeholders to make sure this base is transferred in a way that 
creates the best possible economy and best use of this land. It has 
been a complicated task. It has been an earnest effort.
  This is not the time for the Army to change the rules, digging up a 
clause and misapplying that clause, ignoring the exception written into 
the law, and claiming that this work done over all this time doesn't 
matter.
  That is why I am so delighted to join with Senator Wyden in putting a 
clarification into statute that says, yes, what the original 
legislation said with an April 2012 deadline recognizing our treaty 
obligations must be honored and the BRAC process must be honored for 
the best use of this land in the community.

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