After audience comments on the proposed boundary expansion at the GGNRA Advisory Commission's June 26, 2001 meeting in Half Moon Bay, Commissioner Redmond Kernan asked that staff explain the process at work in the expansion proposal. Superintendent Brian O'Neill made the following remarks.
Superintendent Brian O'Neill:
Obviously, this is a critical step here in terms of getting a pulse of the community most directly affected, and the concerns of the community with respect to any legislative proposals. I think that's particularly critical in the current climate in the U.S.Congress and in the administration. It's clear that there's concern about the backlog of park service maintenance and other related issues, and a more reluctant, probably, mood, in both Congress and the administration to be advancing legislation to establish major new parks, given the financial burden that the government currently faces in funding parks that have already been established. So it's very important, if any initiative goes forward, particularly with a boundary revision of this nature, that it has the compelling support of the local community, and that's going to be a very telling issue with the current administration. They've made it really clear that if the community does not want an issue, they're not likely to put a high priority on it. The fact that the community has expressed itself in such strong support is a very important consideration with respect to how this is going to be handled on the executive side and, ultimately, on the Congressional side.
The process is that Congressman Tom Lantos, on the House side, and Senator Feinstein on the Senate side, will try to prevail upon leadership on both the House and Senate side to get a hearing established, where this legislation can be heard before the committee, modified based upon any issues that they have; they'll have the benefit of all the comments that have been provided here tonight, in a transcript form as well as a summary form. In the executive side, ultimately, what the Park Service feels about the issue is only one step of the process, because our comments and recommendations from tonight's meeting and any resolution passed tonight or subsequently by the Commission, that we would advance that to the Park Service headquarters. Before any executive position is taken on a bill pending before Congress, the committee of Congress hearing that bill will ask for testimony from the executive branch -- and, ultimately, approval to support or not support a bill is granted by the White House, through the Office of Management and Budget. And sometime, one doesn't know, no matter how well they did their homework, what the recommendation of the White House might be with respect to the testimony that one would be giving when we go to testify on a bill. So, I can assure you, there've been surprises before, when, the morning that you're to testify, you're not sure whether you're testifying "for" or "against". So, on our side, it's difficult to forecast, but I can tell you, the expression of the community and the will of the community is a very prevailing consideration in the current climate; that's been made, as I said before, clear.
Now, Congress can either accept or reject the position of the Administration with respect to how they act on a bill. Obviously, it makes it much easier if the executive branch supports the legislation and testifies accordingly. So, we have two parallel processes going forward. When the bill is heard, and if the bill is heard in this session, we will be preparing testimony for the executive individual who will be presenting it. And so, we're not sure at this time when the hearing may be scheduled; there's a limited number of days between the recesses over the next couple months, and there's a lot of members of Congress trying to get a priority set on their bills before the various committees, so there's a certain momentum, obviously, that's built, behind this bill, through the support of the Bay Area delegation, and, certainly, we're prepared at this end to help facilitate any sort of preparation material that may be handled on the executive side. So, basically, that's the process, and so the exact timing is predicated, basically, on when the Rules Committee allows the hearing to be heard on the House side.