SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A pair of Utah congressmen are arguing there isn’t anything “great” about the Great American Outdoors Act.
Utah Congressmen push back
Representative Rob Bishop lobbied strongly against the bill yesterday, although it still easily passed through the House. Now, U.S. Senator Mike Lee is taking up the fight.
He posted on his Facebook page that President Trump should veto the measure.
“At a time when the federal government is running deficits of almost $1 trillion a month, it is absurd that Congress would pass a bill that would make spending for more land acquisition mandatory. Why should federal land acquisition be made mandatory before benefits for veterans? Or funding for soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines?” Lee wrote.
“The federal government already owns too much land,” the post continues. “The last thing we should be doing is enabling the federal government to acquire more land without any scrutiny from Congress.”
Senator Lee is also circulating a petition to defeat the bill’s passage.
Diving into details
The bill proposes to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund at an annual level of $900 million. Since the 1960s, the fund has been used to acquire open space for urban parks and wildland landscapes. It’s funded by excess royalties from offshore oil and gas development.
The Deseret News reports that Representative Bishop is arguing that COVID-19 has thrust that revenue into serious jeopardy.
“Last month there was an 84% drop in the amount of energy we developed, which means there will be a corresponding drop in royalties,” he explains. “What it really is, is a way to get around how much money you can spend on buying public lands.”
Ivanka Trump is scheduled to make a stop in Colorado Thursday to celebrate the bill’s passage at Rocky Mountain National Park with Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.
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