H.R. 4789, to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to establish a structure for visitor services on the Arlington Ridge tract, in the area of the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial

H.R. 4789

to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to establish a structure for visitor services on the Arlington Ridge tract, in the area of the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial

Sponsor
Rep. Donald Beyer

Date
September 6, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On­­­­ Tuesday, September 6, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 4789, to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to establish a structure for visitor services on the Arlington Ridge tract, in the area of the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 4789 was introduced on March 17, 2016, by Rep. Donald S. Beyer, Jr. (D-VA) and was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which ordered the bill reported by unanimous consent on June 15, 2016.

Bill Summary

H.R. 4789 authorizes the Department of the Interior to build a structure for visitor services on the Arlington Ridge tract in the area of the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington County, Virginia, including permanent public restroom facilities as well as a small area for interpretative signage and materials near the memorial.

 

Background

Located in Arlington, Virginia, the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial commemorates “United States Marine Corps who have given their lives to their country since November 10, 1775.” The Memorial’s design was inspired by photographer Joe Rosenthal’s iconic World War II image, depicting five U.S. Marines and a U.S. Navy corpsman raising the American flag on the Pacific island of Iwo Jima. Each year, the site attracts over one million visitors and hosts several popular events including Summer Sunset Parades and the Marine Corps Marathon. Regardless of this activity, the Memorial is still without many basic services for visitors like permanent restroom facilities. Citing high visitation numbers at the Memorial, the National Park Service (NPS) expressed an urgent need to replace the current temporary, portable bathroom arrangement with more respectful and permanent bathroom facilities.[1]

When Congress initially authorized the United States Air Force Memorial in 2001, the legislation explicitly banned the creation of any additional structures on the 25.32 acre parcel of land encompassing the Memorial. In doing so, Congress did not intend to prohibit the creation of public restroom facilities; instead, the legislation was designed to keep the Memorial’s surrounding area open and potentially available for future use by the Arlington National Cemetery. Removing this prohibitive statute would allow NPS to build a permanent, non-staffed visitor services facility, with the help of a generous $5.37 million donation from billionaire philanthropist David Rubenstein. [2]

Respectfully, NPS also designed the new visitor services facilities in a way that minimally impacts the open space surrounding the Memorial. According to the William Shaddox, Acting Associate Director for Park Planning, Facilities, and Lands for NPS, “the proposed structure would not impact the open space of the Tract any more than the existing temporary restroom facilities.”[3]

——————
[1] See House Report 114-690 – at 1.
[2] See House Report 114-690 – at 2.
[3] See U.S. Department of Interior Statement, May 24, 2016.

Cost

Based on information provided by NPS, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing the legislation would cost about $1 million over the 2017-2021 period, subject to the availability of appropriated funds. Enacting H.R. 4789 would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply. CBO estimates that enacting H.R. 4789 would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027.

 

Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact John Wilson with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-1811.