In brief: Capital Roundup

Contractors oppose Rumsfeld plan

The Fairfax, Va., County Chamber of Commerce is urging Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to reconsider a plan to restrict any new defense-related construction, leasing or facility improvements to an area outside a 100-mile zone around Washington.

Rumsfeld told the Washington Times editorial board last month he opposes further concentration of defense facilities in the metropolitan D.C. area, and that his office is considering such a proposal.

Chamber Chairman Michael Lewis wrote to Rumsfeld: "Any move to disperse defense-related facilities outside of the capital region would have a profoundly adverse effect on the private-sector contractors."

The Virginia congressional delegation, led by Republican Sens. John Warner and George Allen and Reps. Tom Davis, R, Jim Moran, D, and Frank Wolf, R, also signed a letter to Rumsfeld asking him to reject the zone proposal.

President gets trade authority

President Bush achieved one of his top legislative priorities this month when he signed the Trade Act of 2002, giving him the ability to negotiate trade agreements without congressional amendment. Congress can only vote for or against the agreements. Congress has not approved the authority since it expired in 1994.

Billions of emergency funds unused

As of June 30, $14 billion of the $40 billion federal Emergency Response Fund appropriations had not been earmarked for fiscal 2002 spending, according to an Aug. 9 quarterly report to Congress by the Office of Management and Budget. The fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

Congress appropriated the money to fund the government's response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Sixty-six percent of all available funds, or $25.8 billion, had been obligated by June 30, according to OMB.

The departments of Agriculture, Education and Labor have earmarked less than one-third of their available funds. The Defense Department and the Transportation Security Administration are among the few agencies likely to use all their available funds, the report said.

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