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Republicans in Congress Set Value of All Public Lands and Buildings to $0 for Easy Sell Off at Taxpayers’ Expense

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Change Could Ultimately Benefit Energy Companies, Forever Destroying America’s Vast Wilderness

The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed a rules change this past week by a vote of 234 to 193, that would allow Congress the ability to essentially give away federal lands and buildings for free. The new rule, authored by GOP Rep. Robert Bishop of Utah, Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, codifies that any legislation to dispose of federal land and natural resources would have a net sum zero cost to taxpayers. As the rule applies only to the House legislative rules, it is not subject to approval by the Senate or a presidential signature and is effective immediately.

All Democrats in the House voted against the measure, while only three Republicans joined them in opposing it, USA TODAY reports. The Wilderness Society said “this move paves the way for a wholesale giveaway of our American hunting, fishing and camping lands that belong to us all. Make no mistake, the giveaway is for the benefit of the drilling and mining interests that have a lock-grip on Congress and the rest of Washington.”

Since the House is required to account for any cost associated with any legislation it considers under Congressional Budget Office accounting rules and guidelines, legislation put forward now shall skip several steps in the normal legislative process, coming up for a vote without any discussion of the costs and benefits. This means that the House does not need to render an assessment or cost analysis of estimated financial losses resulting in legislation giving away public lands or buildings.

A Democratic Congressional source on Capitol Hill told NCRM Friday that this procedural rules shortcut will apply equally to all types of public land. 

“For example, the national parks like Yosemite – even federal buildings and facilities in Washington like the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover headquarters building, could all be given away without consideration of the cost to American taxpayers.”  

‘Plan to Give Away America’s Public Lands for Free Is Outrageous and Absurd’ Says Democratic Congressman

In an statement to NCRM via email Arizona Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona castigated House GOP leadership over the rules change. 

“The House Republican plan to give away America’s public lands for free is outrageous and absurd. This proposed rule change would make it easier to implement this plan by allowing the Congress to give away every single piece of property we own, for free, and pretend we have lost nothing of any value. Not only is this fiscally irresponsible, but it is also a flagrant attack on places and resources valued and beloved by the American people,” Grijalva said. 

Federal stewardship over public lands has long been a contentious issue with Congressional Republicans and particularly with Tea Party and House Freedom Caucus members from the Western states. But in the case of Rep. Bishop, he has waged an incessant campaign to divest federal ownership of Western lands, in particular urging President-elect Donald Trump to abolish national monuments designated by President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton. More than 270 million acres of American land and waters are potentially at risk—an area two and a half times the size of California.

This latest maneuver by Bishop with the House rules change was met with sharp criticism from conservation and watchdog groups. One group told NCRM that the impetus for Bishop’s zeal to unload federal property could be traced to his contributors.

According to the advocacy and activist group Oil Change International which tracks campaign contribution monies from fossil fuel corporations and the coal industry via the group’s Dirty Energy Money web project, since 1999 Congressman Bishop has accepted campaign funds and contributions of more than $452,610 dollars from oil, gas and coal interests. Figures collected by Oil Change International show that greater than ten percent of that figure has come from the coal-friendly National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, which has led the fight against the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. Oil giants Exxon-Mobil, Chevron, and Tesoro are also listed among Bishop’s top campaign contributors.

Recent polling by the Denver, Colorado, based Center for Western Priorities showed that over seventy-five percent of registered voters in the states of Nevada, Colorado, and Montana believe public lands are an essential part of their respective state’s economies. Additionally, the Congressional watchdog agency, the Government Accountability Office, which is responsible for monitoring of the federal budget, found that leases for oil and gas drilling on public lands are one of the U.S. government’s largest sources of non-tax based revenues.

Congressional Republicans Accused of ‘Greasing the Skids’ and ‘Using Smoke and Mirrors to Hide the Cost of Stealing Away Our Public Lands’

In a statement released Tuesday after the House rules change vote by the Center for Western Priorities, which calls itself a “nonpartisan conservation and advocacy organization,” the organisation’s Executive Director Jennifer Rokala noted: 

“Less than one day in and Congressional Republicans are already greasing the skids to give away or sell off America’s public lands, forests, and wildlife refuges. What’s worse, politicians are using smoke and mirrors to hide the cost of stealing away our public lands, while ripping off American taxpayers in the process.”

She added, “President-elect Donald Trump and his nominee to run the Interior Department, Montana Representative Ryan Zinke, have disavowed attempts to seize our public lands. This is their first chance to show how serious they are by standing up to attacks on our parks and public lands in the U.S. House of Representatives.” 

During his presidential campaign, Trump was a vocal opponent of selling off federal lands. His Interior Secretary nominee, GOP Congressman Ryan Zinke, who serves as U.S. Representative for Montana’s at-large congressional district, has also publicly stated his opposition to efforts to dispose of public lands. During the GOP platform writing committee sessions last summer he resigned after the Republican Party platform included language that would support disposal of federal lands. He did however vote in favor of House Resolution 5 for the Rules Change on Tuesday. A spokesperson for Zinke told NCRM Friday that any statement regarding a change in his position regarding Bishop’s rule would be premature until further review and after his confirmation process as Interior Secretary.

Randi Spivak, public lands director with the Center for Biological Diversity remarked, “In Rob Bishop’s world, land owned by all Americans should be taken over by those who see them as nothing but a source of profit for drilling, mining and logging. Fortunately there are laws that protect places like national monuments—Rep. Bishop apparently doesn’t understand them or doesn’t think they should apply to his ideology.”

“If Rob Bishop has his way, where would it stop? Taking Yellowstone and Yosemite off the list of national parks?,” asked Spivak.

To contact your Congressman visit the House website or call the Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121. 
Rep. Bishop is on Facebook.

 

Brody Levesque is the Chief Political Correspondent for The New Civil Rights Movement.
You may contact Brody at [email protected] 

To comment on this article and other NCRM content, visit our Facebook page.

Image by USCapitol via Flickr 

 

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AMERICA IN CRISIS

Trump’s Mental Decline Compared to Reagan’s Hidden Alzheimer’s in Brutal MSNBC Assessment

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On Saturday morning a deadly serious MSNBC panel took up Donald Trump’s increasingly erratic behavior of late, which led one panelist to sincerely suggest the president needs to be evaluated by mental health officials because she believes the White House is covering for him.

Speaking with host David Gura, MSNBC legal analyst Maya Wiley admitted that she is no doctor, but that there are signs of the president’s decline that reminded her of how Ronald Reagan’s White House hid his Alzheimer’s from the public.

“This is the man last week said he was the second coming, the ‘chosen one,’” Wiley began. “It is very, very difficult to not have a conversation about whether or not he’s competent to serve as president. I say that because there were actually objective measures this week.”

“So there’s the possibility, of course, he is just a president without a platform and, therefore, he’s not going to stick to one position and he’s going to waiver based on whoever is influencing him because he doesn’t stand for anything,” she elaborated. “That’s one narrative. The other possibility is, as we saw with Ronald Reagan, who actually did have Alzheimer’s and it was kept under wraps. I just don’t understand why we not actually ask and have a confrontational conversation about whether or not there’s something more going on here with his health, because there are certain statements and behaviors that simply require some analysis because he is the leader — supposedly the leader of the free world.”

“I just want to say that it’s both those things, I don’t know which one is true,” she cautioned. “I’m not making a statement of fact, but this week was a new chapter in bizarre.”

Watch below:

 

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BAD PRESIDENT

Former Dem Senator Hilariously Nails Perfect Impression of ‘Pouting’ Trump at G7 Because Nobody ‘Likes Him’ There

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During the “Overtime” segment of HBO’s Real Time, former North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) made fun of Donald Trump before he arrived at the G7 summit in France, saying he will pout his way through the weekend because the other world leaders loathe him.

With host Bill Maher asking how the Trump will conduct himself, Heitkamp immediately went into a very recognizable arms-crossed pout, which caused the audience to burst into laughter.

After the two posed as Trump and German leader Angela Merkel from the last get together, Heitkamp had a few things to say about the president.

“Pouting, the president will pout,” she smirked. “Because people don’t like him. and he knows they don’t like him. And when people don’t like him, he pouts.”

“It’s embarrassing, it’s not just ridiculous,” she added. “And it’s dangerous, it’s dangerous with everything that is going on.”

Host Maher added, “He shouldn’t even go, he doesn’t even want to be there.”

Watch below:

 

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AMERICAN IDIOT

‘A Monumental Fraud and Failure’: Trump Had a Plan to ‘Blow Up’ the G7 and Give the ‘Middle Finger’ to Our Allies: Report

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President Donald Trump’s plan was to bully our G7 allies on a range of issues by touting the strong U.S. economy. As The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent wrote Friday morning, “Trump will proclaim his ‘America First’ agenda a smashing success, and throw that in the faces of our European allies.”

That plan will have to be changed now that his trade war with China just exploded.

China imposed tariffs of $75 billion of U.S. goods on Friday. Trump launched a tweetstorm causing the DOW to drop more than 600 points (at several times during the day more than 700 points.)

The president apparently found wiping out the value of millions of Americans’ 401(k)s amusing:

And just an hour after the markets closed, Trump once again took to Twitter, announcing he is increasing tariffs against China on $250 billion of goods.

“Trump’s appearance [at the G7] will in reality demonstrate that the very nationalist agenda he will be touting is, thus far, a record of deep fraudulence and failure, covered up with lies,” Sargent added. “Trump’s ‘America First’ agenda, particularly the trade war with China, is a key reason the U.S. economy is now at greater risk of tipping into recession.”

“It’s important to appreciate just how heavily Trump’s political mystique relies on the constant middle finger he gives to allies and international leaders. It’s central to the story he told in 2016 and the one he’ll tell in 2020.”

Last year President Trump promised winning trade wars is “easy.”

Read the entire piece at The Washington Post.

 

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