CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
H.R. 4438 is scheduled to be considered on the House floor on Tuesday, July 13, 2010, under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX). The bill was referred to the Committee on Natural resources, which reported the bill, as amended, by voice vote on May 5, 2010.
H.R. 4438 would require the Secretary of Interior to conduct a study to identify lands within Bexar and Wilson Counties, Texas, for inclusion in the boundaries of the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. The Secretary would be required to report the findings of the study within three years of funding being made available.
In addition, the legislation would authorize the Secretary to enter into a cooperative agreement with the City of San Antonio or its designee, for operation of a facility outside the boundary of the park to provide office space for the park headquarters, and a center for research and education. Under the legislation, the Secretary would be authorized to plan design, construct, and install these facilities.
Finally, the legislation would expand the boundaries of the park by an additional 151 acres.
San Antonio Missions National Historical Park was created in 1978 in order to preserve four Spanish Missions in San Antonio, Texas. According to the National Park Service (NPS), the park represents the largest "collection of Spanish colonial resources in the country." According to House Report 111-501, the new boundary of the park "would encompass 118 acres that are either currently owned by the National Park Service (NPS) or in the process of being donated or transferred to the agency." In addition, the report says that the cost associated with expanding the size of the National Park would be primarily paid for by the San Antonio River Authority. The additional 33 acres of non-federal land that would be added would either be purchased from willing sellers or donated to the NPS. Though CBO has estimated that a study and expansion of the park would cost $4 million over the FY 2011 through FY 2015 period, assuming the availability of funds.
In addition, the bill would allow the NPS to enter into a cooperative agreement with the state, local government, or nonprofit organization to construct a headquarters and educational facility outside the boundary of the San Antonio Missions
National Historical Park. According to CBO, this provision would increase direct spending by $10 million over the FY 2011 through FY 2015 period. Since this funding is not offset with a corresponding increase in revenue or decrease in direct spending, the bill represents a violation of the Democrats PAYGO rules. However, the bill is scheduled to be considered under a suspension of the rules; thus, the Democrats can avoid their own rule which was supposedly meant to stop deficit spending. Some Members may be concerned that this legislation violates the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010.
The NPS is facing a maintenance deficit and a collapsing national park infrastructure. According to CRS, the NPS backlog for maintenance on existing buildings, trails, and other infrastructure was more than $9 billion in FY 2006. The backlog is a result of the NPS failing to do scheduled maintenance and upkeep that was either not funded or carried out according to plan. As a result of the backlog, NPS infrastructure is deteriorating at a rapid rate. Some Members may be concerned that expanding the responsibilities of NPS would be unsustainable without addressing the current management structure which has resulted in such a large, unfunded maintenance backlog.
According to CBO, H.R. 4438 would increase discretionary spending by $4 million over the FY 2011 through FY 2015 period and increase direct spending by $10 million over the same period.