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Harman Touts Nuts-and-Bolts Achievements : Congress: In her first six months in office, saving defense-based jobs and keeping military bases have been among her priorities.

July 11, 1993|RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

COASTAL — Rep. Jane Harman says voters sent her to Congress to retain jobs and improve the local economy. Looking back on her first six months in office, the Marina del Rey Democrat said she has made headway, but much more needs to be done.

Meeting with reporters Thursday in her district office near Los Angeles International Airport, Harman said she is acutely aware of voter frustration with the way things were being done in Washington.

"There is an enormous appetite for change in government," she said.

But asked for her achievements so far, Harman focused on nuts-and-bolts issues in the 36th District, which stretches from Venice to the Palos Verdes Peninsula.

First, she said, she sought and won appointments to the House Armed Services Committee and the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Both committees play critical roles in Defense Department issues, which are especially important to the aerospace and defense industries. Those industries, major regional employers, have suffered from cuts in the defense budget.

Then came military base closures, she said. She and other members of the California congressional delegation helped to keep the Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo and Long Beach Naval Shipyard off the list, which President Clinton accepted July 1.

She said she plans to begin lobbying now to keep the bases off the Pentagon's 1995 list, the third and last round of planned closures.

About 7,000 people work at the El Segundo base, and contractors and support services employ thousands more, Harman said.

The Air Force has threatened to move the base, mainly because its personnel have trouble finding affordable housing in the area.

Los Angeles, state and federal officials reached an agreement last year to lease 23 acres in San Pedro to the Air Force for about 250 housing units. Harman said she expects the lease to be signed by the end of the month.

The Air Force has not guaranteed that providing new housing would prevent it from moving the base, but Harman said the lease "will make it far less likely that the base will be moved in '95."

Harman also played up the importance of helping local defense contractors convert their operations to peacetime uses.

In May she introduced the Defense Reinvestment and High-Tech Job Act of 1993, which would provide Pentagon contractors with tax breaks and other incentives to convert their operations. Harman said she has been working to win bipartisan support for the measure, and that she expects the House Ways and Means Committee to take up the bill in the fall.

On another district issue, Harman said a House subcommittee has approved spending $2.1 million to dredge Marina del Rey and $175,000 for a navigation study. The dredging is needed to remove sediment at the harbor entrance that is contaminated by pollutants washed down Ballona Creek.

The study, she said, should explore whether the marina entrance channel needs to be redesigned to control the flow of toxic sediment.

Harman also said she has not taken a position on whether Los Angeles International Airport, which is in her district, should be leased to private operators to raise city revenues, as Mayor Richard Riordan has proposed.

Harman said that until she has spoken at length with Riordan about the issue she will not take a stand. But, she said, "I'm certainly willing to entertain innovative solutions" to Los Angeles' fiscal troubles.

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