Barletta Argues for Harrisburg Courthouse Funding
Click here or on image to watch Rep. Barletta’s Q&A about the Harrisburg courthouse project.
WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta, PA-11, today advocated for the continued funding of the proposed new federal courthouse in Harrisburg, noting that the project’s viability depends on timely and efficient completion of other courthouse projects ahead of it on the judiciary’s five-year construction plan. Barletta raised the subject of the Harrisburg courthouse, which is viewed as a major economic development opportunity for the city, during a hearing he convened for that purpose as Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management.
Congress appropriated $948 million for new courthouse or annex construction for Fiscal Year 2016, the priorities for which are set by the federal courts themselves. Currently, there are eight other courthouse proposals ahead of Harrisburg on the list: Nashville, Tennessee; Toledo, Ohio; Charlotte, North Carolina; Des Moines, Iowa; Greenville, South Carolina; Anniston, Alabama; Savannah, Georgia; and San Antonio, Texas. In order for the Harrisburg project to move forward, the other eight must come to completion on or under budget.
Appearing before Barletta’s subcommittee as witnesses were Judge D. Brooks Smith, of Altoona, of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, the Chairman of the judiciary’s Committee on Space and Facilities, as well as Norman Dong, the Commissioner of the Public Buildings Service for the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA).
“You have a limited amount of funds and there are a lot of projects on the five-year plan,” Barletta said. “We want to fund as many of them as possible. That means every new courthouse project must be planned, designed, and managed in a way to ensure that they are on schedule and under budget.”
“We recognized from the outset that what we had to do was to undertake steps to assure that we – as responsibly as is humanly possible and as efficiently as we could effect – spend that money to see that facilities were provided for the judiciary that allowed us to do the job that we could do,” Judge Smith said. “The word has gone out and we have engaged, not only the court, but with our friends at GSA.”
Barletta persisted, highlighting the fact that the Harrisburg courthouse is dependent on the other eight projects being completed according to their budgets.
“As you know, the Harrisburg courthouse is number nine on the list,” Barletta said. “There’s funding currently available for eight, and partially some for nine. I want to make sure that we stay on or under budget so that there is that money, that partial funding, for the Harrisburg courthouse remaining there, and it doesn’t get used up on the top eight. And therefore the Harrisburg courthouse would fall further back.”
“We are certainly keeping an eye with a view toward Harrisburg,” Judge Smith said. “I’m in conversations with the Chief Judge, Judge [Christopher] Conner of that district. And we are taking every step possible to make sure that there are sufficient monies after one through eight on the construction list to address at least the beginning of the courthouse project in Harrisburg.”
“Every day we’re coming together to work through specific issues at specific courthouses,” Dong said. “And we’re really seeing some terrific progress here. But I think it really comes back to the commitment to collaboration to make sure that we’re able to deliver on the program for these courthouses.”