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June 17, 2010

Updated: Republicans target Shore facility, federal workers

Senate Republicans proposed to kill a planned State Department security training facility on Maryland's Eastern Shore as part of a sweeping spending and tax alternative Thursday.

The Republican substitute failed to gain approval in the Democrat-dominated chamber, but the measure represented the second swing at the controversial Ruthsburg, Md., center by Republicans in recent weeks, suggesting that it has attracted the attention of conservatives in Washington. The initial attempt to zero out funding for construction also failed.

It was blocked Thursday on a largely party line vote, 57-41, with only one Democrat, Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, siding with 40 Republicans in support of the measure.

As part of their substitute proposal, Republicans wanted to eliminate a proposed 2011 pay raise for federal workers, freeze federal hiring and rescind about $38 billion in unspent stimulus dollars, including money for the proposed facility in Queen Anne's County.

The Republican amendment was designed to finance many of the spending goals that Democrats are pushing, by making cuts elsewhere. It would not provide $24 billion in federal aid that Democrats want to give hard-pressed state governments for health care programs that assist poor and working-class residents.

Liberals claim the Republican measure would have forced an effective shutdown of the federal government by jamming a five percent annual spending cut into the final four months of the fiscal year.

South Dakota Republican Sen. John Thune, a potential 2012 presidential candidate, pushed the tax-and-spending alternative as the Senate continued to struggle with a major piece of legislation that would extend unemployment insurance and roll back a proposed reduction in fees paid to doctors under the Medicare program.

In targeting the Ruthsburg facility, Republicans want to return the $75 million in stimulus money to the federal treasury that was set aside for land acquisition and other initial costs of the State Department center, which is designed to provide anti-terrorism training to U.S. diplomats and others.

The State Department plan has attracted vocal opposition from environmentalists and others in Queen Anne's County who don't want the center built on about 2,000 acres of privately owned land in a rural area about a half-hour's drive from the Bay Bridge. Proponents of the project cite the findings of a public opinion poll they bankrolled that showed most county voters in favor of the project.

Here is the relevant provision of the Thune amendment (complete with a misspelling of the tiny crossroads village where the federal government wants to build the security center):

SEC. 411. RESCINDING A STATE DEPARTMENT TRAINING FACILITY UNWANTED BY RESIDENTS OF THE COMMUNITY IN WHICH IT IS PLANNED TO BE CONSTRUCTED.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no Federal funds may be spent to construct a State Department training facility in Ruthsberg, Maryland, and any funding obligated for the facility by Public Law 111-5 are rescinded, Provided That, this section does not prohibit funds otherwise appropriated to be spent by the State Department for training facilities in other jurisdictions in accordance with law.

Posted by Paul West at 6:50 PM | | Comments (7)
Categories: Washington
        

Comments

The so called majority who want this bomb blasting facility,live no where near it. They just happen to live in the county that would house it,,,right next to a state park , a water shed area, several subdivisions, etc... WE DO NOT WANT IT!!!!!!

This proposed Training Center would be built to resemble the Glynco Training Center in Georgia. It so happens, that the Glencoe Training Center has dumped carcinogens in the water table which has caused it to be labeled as a Superfund site - a toxic waste clean up site. The Eastern Shore, with it's environmentally sensitive environment and high water table is the absolute worst site for this facility! The catastrophic effects of such a site will ruin the Eastern Shore and it's fragile wildlife. It's bomb exercises will ruin the Atlantic Flyway and damage forever the Chesapeake Bay. Carcinogens will flow into the Chesapeake and contaminate the marine life, they will flow in toxic plumes under homes as far away as 20 miles or more, contaminating wewlls and aquifiers which will cause cancer amoung residents, just as a site in California did to our community. A toxic plume flowed under our community, 20 miles from such a training center, and I got cancer, along with 3 other people I knew in my development. Those 3 people died, I survived. Therefore, I am a witness to the horrific dangers from this kind of training site with explosives . I have asked the GSA and State Department to explain to the public what carcinogens exist in the explosive residue - they have not answered my questions. This site belongs in an already contaminated superfund site like the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, NOT on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Whoever promoted this site had no environmental experience. Our Congressman Kratovil has admitted to me that he has no environmental experience, in a previous e-mail sent to me before he became a Congressman. The GSA stated that there are no guarantees that any jobs will be given to citizens of the county. There are no benefits associated with this site - just visit the Glencoe site and see how it has ruined the environment and not provided jobs for local residents. This facility belongs elsewhere - on a polluted site. No room for negotiations on this subject.

Ms. French,

You say it will be "built to resemble the Glynco Training Center in Georgia."

Will the Ruthsburg be doing the same training as the facility in Georgia? In exactly the same manner?

Where do YOU want the training facility to be built? In Tex-Ass? Where the carcinogens you state will be produced can flow into the Gulf instead of the Bay?

Do you, in fact, know if there will be any carcinogens produced? And if they are, what measures will be taken to prevent their spread?

Do you realize that Maryland has much more strict environmental laws than the state of Georgia? And that if the facility were built in Queen Anne's County, the facility would have to be built in accordance with those environmental regulations, not the regulations that were in effect in Georgia when the Glynco facility was built?

And finally, do you realize that the facility in Georgia was opened in 1975, which means it was in the planning stages during the same time the US was still allowing oil companies to put lead in gasoline?

In other words, comparing the Ruthsburg facility to the Glynco facility is probably more akin to comparing apples to raspberries than even apples to oranges.

GOOD I am so glad it did not pass. The Eastern Shore needs JOBS, JOBS, and MORE JOBS. Queen Anne's County commissioners just pass spending cuts of $11 million to vital services instead of raising taxes at moderate rate. When they start cutting services the rich and those with mighty high pensions enjoy then will see what they have to say.

Not all residents of Queen Anne's County are opposed to this facility. I'm one of them. The county needs good paying jobs that can provide a future without having to cross the Bay Bridge. The partisan hacks opposing this facility are doing so because it is being proposed by a Democratic President who is also a black man. If George "the Decider" Bush had proposed this they would label any opposition unpatriotic. They are charlatans of the first order. Build it now !

I'm glad the Republicans put a stop to this. Sorry Eastern Shore, but Security guard training should be left to the private sector. If they want to spend our hard earned tax dollars, it should be for cutting the deficit. Spending has gotten out of control.

This makes not sense. This is why VA is always 2 steps ahead of Maryland. Jobs, people, jobs!!! Also, look at the taxes that could be collected. What a bunch of dummies!!!

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Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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