After the-sky-is-falling proclamations from the Obama Administration that sequestration would harm National Parks, delay oil and gas permits, and cost jobs in the Department of the Interior, Senate Democrats this week introduced a FY13 spending bill that would impose further cuts to the Parks, severely curtail funds to fight wildfires, and reduce resource development dollars used for permitting. In both the FY13 Continuing Resolution (CR) and in the FY14 budget proposal, Senate Democrats prioritized new land acquisition over protecting and efficiently operating our current federal estate.
Congressional Western Caucus Co-Chairman Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), and Chairman Emeritus, Rob Bishop (R-UT) issued the following statements in response:
"The Senate CR is an insult to the West. After full-throated complaints about Park Service cuts in the sequester, and front page write-ups in the Washington Post about delayed openings at Yellowstone, Senate Democrats now propose to cut Park Service funding by another $22 million dollars. As we approach fire season, they also force the government to borrow money to fight wildfires. They make these cuts not because they've seen the light on dealing with our debt, but to protect funding for acquiring new lands for the federal government without any requirement to dispose of land first. In what world do Senate Democrats live where growing the federal estate is more important than protecting the West from fires, or effectively managing the land we already have?" - Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis
"This is a clear case of misplaced priorities. Long before sequestration there was an existing maintenance backlog on our federal lands and now land managers are reporting that sequestration is only further compounding this issue. It makes zero sense that we provide tax dollars for new land acquisitions, especially given the financial crisis before us. Families who are struggling and can barely afford to pay their bills don't go buy new homes because to do so would be fiscally irresponsible. Yet, that is the exact course of action the Senate is proposing in their latest version of the CR. We're facing furloughs, layoffs, and a rapid deterioration of our national defense capabilities, so I don't see how anyone can presently justify adding to the 660 million acres of land already owned by the federal government. I disagree with the Senate's proposal to give taxpayer dollars to the Land and Water Conservation Fund and will join with many colleagues in opposing it here in the House." - Congressman Rob Bishop