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HATCH CO-SPONSORS ROAD-EQUIPMENT BILL

Instead of giving old military road maintenance equipment to other countries, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, says it should be offered to state and local governments first.

He and Sen. James Sasser, D-Tenn., introduced a bill Friday that would allow that - and possibly bring states a "peace dividend" of bulldozers, backhoes and graders."States should have the first chance to get equipment needed to rebuild our crumbling highways and roads," Hatch said. But he noted that under the Humanitarian Assistance Program, most excess military engineer items have gone to foreign countries.

"We are not going to deny humanitarian assistance to countries in need, but after spending $10 billion on NATO infrastructures, I think it's time we supplied the equipment to our own nation."

Under Hatch's bill, the U.S. General Services Administration would resume priority control over the surplus military items and make them available to local governments through such entities as the Utah State Agency for Surplus Property.