WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Representative Ann Kirkpatrick today bitterly condemned a blatantly political maneuver by Washington Republicans, who blocked passage of two of her bills to safeguard unique Arizona treasures while creating jobs in her district.
She has been fighting for months to designate the Red Rock lands around Sedona as a National Scenic Area with H.R. 4823, and to expand the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument to protect sensitive areas around the current site with H.R. 5110. In addition to making critical strides for conservation, these measures would strengthen the local tourism industry and encourage economic recovery without needing large-scale investment of taxpayer dollars.
The bills have earned broad-based support in Greater Arizona from members of both parties. They were reported out of the House Natural Resources Committee without objection and with amendments by both Democratic and Republican Members. However, when they were brought up for a vote on the House floor, Republicans chose to block these low-cost jobs projects.
"This is exactly why folks are so frustrated with Congress," said Rep. Kirkpatrick. "Washington Republicans put party loyalty and political games above what's right for the people. They are trying to score points in a partisan battle by blocking bills that will get Arizonans back to work and protect this district's wonders. There's no excuse for it."
H.R. 4823 failed with 258 in favor and 160 opposed, and H.R. 5110 failed with 244 in favor and 174 opposed. Under the suspension of the rules procedure, which is frequently used to pass non-partisan legislation like these measures, a two-thirds vote is required. Both bills can still be considered and passed on a majority vote, but that will require multiple procedural roadblocks to be cleared -- delaying them for weeks at minimum.
Rep. Kirkpatrick's speeches during debate denouncing partisan obstacles to these bills and encouraging Members to support them can be viewed here and here. This morning's editorial from the Arizona Republic on the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument expansion bill, which commented that "if any bill should be a slam dunk, this is it" and called on Congress not to let the effort "get caught up in election-year obstructionism," can be read here.