Thursday, August 6, 2009

Senate passes Defense Authorization Act; await news on amendment for U.S. Comptroller General security and financial audit of Laurelwood housing plan

The U.S. Senate last week passed the Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal year 2010, which includes a proposed amendment (SA. 1539) sponsored by Messrs. Menendez and Lautenberg, essentially repeating the version passed by the House and introduced by Congressman Chris Smith.

Following up on a question that arose during each of our two information sessions the past two weeks about what this means for NOPE, and reviewing some notes taken from discussions with our federal legislative contacts, it appears that the Senate's passage of S. 1390 (the Defense Authorization Act itself) means that both chambers will now begin negotations on a version to send to President Obama this fall. Early September is the earliest this will become law, we're told, though at times the process lasts through December. We are hopeful of the earliest resolution. We will keep our eye on whether Senate Amendment SA 1549 is passed and continue to press for Senate passage.

To reiterate, President Obama's approval would mean that within 180 days of passage, the Comptroller General must submit to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees a report containing "a cost analysis and audit of the sufficiency of the Navy's security measures in advance of the proposed occupancy by the general public of units of the Laurelwood Housing complex on Naval Weapons Station Earle." Whether passage of such an amendment stalls the Navy's ability to execute its road-clearing plans and meet the April 30, 2010 deadline for the unimpeded civilian access route remains to be seen.

In the meantime, please stay tuned here and to you NOPE email, as we will give you the heads up on whom to call within the U.S. Senate (and when) to support the Menendez-Lautenberg Amendment (SA 1549).

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