Senate budget carries harmful amendments

From the FLYER

National Wildlife Refuge Association

In late March, the House and Senate each passed budget resolutions outlining their spending plans for the next fiscal year and into the future. These set the tone for the appropriations bills that will become law and future stand alone legislation.

Unfortunately, a few very concerning amendments were considered or added to the Senate budget resolution.

One of the amendments that was adopted would give support and funding for state efforts to take over federal lands. It excluded the sale of National Parks, National Monuments, and National Preserves but left the door open to sell our national wildlife refuges, national forests, and other public lands. Three Republican Senators (Senator Corey Gardner of Colorado, Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee) crossed party lines to oppose this amendment but they were ultimately defeated. The amendment passed by a vote of 51-49.

Another concerning amendment would gradually have removed nearly $400 million from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) budget and given it to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a sister agency in the Department of Interior. Luckily the amendment did not succeed – but the intent was clear that some lawmakers support severe cuts to the budget of the Service.

Although it’s true that the budget and these amendments are not law, they set a dangerous precedent and certainly set the mood of this Congress about our national wildlife refuges and other public lands – apparently selling our lands to the highest bidder is something this Congress is very willing to consider.

We all need to remind our elected officials that our refuges and other public lands are what sets us aside from other nations – we believe in our public lands and we do not believe they should be sold.