Barletta to Replace Denham as Chair of House Subcommittee Overseeing GSA

Changes in the House Republican leadership overseeing GSA continue. Incoming House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman William “Bill” Shuster (R-Pa.) announced yesterday (January 16) that he is appointing fellow Pennsylvania Republican Lou Barletta to head the Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee. That subcommittee oversees federal real estate programs, including GSA’s Public Buildings Service (PBS); it also has jurisdiction over the nation’s economic development and emergency preparedness policy programs. Barletta, who has served on the full committee since he was sworn into office in 2011 and will take over as chairman of the subcommittee when he is confirmed next week, said in a statement that he looks forward “to working with Chairman Shuster to examine how we can best help economically distressed cities, strengthen our country’s emergency management system, and heighten oversight of our nation’s public buildings.”

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.)—who, as the current head of the subcommittee, has aggressively pushed GSA to reduce its costs and sell vacant and underused federal property—will move to chair the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials. (He has long been an outspoken opponent of a proposed California high-speed rail project, and is expected to continue to seek to deny federal funding for it in his new position.) While Denham and former committee chair Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.)—who, as we reported last week, now chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on Government Operations—made a strong team, working together to criticize GSA and its Public Buildings Service (PBS) through their “Stop Sitting on Our Assets” campaign, it is unclear how Shuster and Barletta will approach these issues. Perhaps more significantly, it remains to be seen whether under their leadership the House will pick up where Mica and Denham left off with the proposed passage of the Civilian Property Realignment Act, the Public Buildings Reform Act or similar legislation.