Issue: Lee Amendment (S.Amdt 1209) to H.R. 3055 (appropriations for several departments): To prohibit the expenditure of certain amounts from the Land and Water Conservation Fund for land acquisition. Question: On the Amendment S.Amdt. 1209.
Result: Failed in Senate, 29 to 64, not voting 7. Senate GOP and Democrats scored.
Freedom First Society: Senator Mike Lee’s proposed amendment to the H.R. 3055 appropriations bill would prevent the Federal Government from spending taxpayer dollars to acquire more federal lands during the coming fiscal year. In recent decades, unconstitutional federal land acquisition has been driven by revolutionary ideologies and environmentalist movements with high-level support. The vote on Senator Lee’s amendment illustrates the battle lines in Congress for continued federal land grabs. In the Congressional Record, below, Senator Lee provides a stirring wake-up call.
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We have assigned (good vote) to the Yeas and (bad vote) to the Nays. (P = voted present; ? = not voting; blank = not listed on roll call.)
Analysis: Several pretexts supported the renewed drive for federal land acquisition in recent decades, such as the UN’s Convention on Biodiversity developed at the 1992 UN “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro. As such, this drive for unconstitutional federal land acquisition supports two points of the plan laid out in Marx’s Communist Manifesto to build total government:
Point 1. “Abolition of private property and land and application of all rents of land to public purposes”;
Point 9. “Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country by a more equitable distribution of population over the country.”
Senator Lee does not address the revolutionary agenda and forces behind the drive. Here he speaks only of the alarming result.
From the Congressional Record (10-31-19) [Emphasis added]:
Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah):
“Mr. President, there is no doubt that we are blessed with beautiful, useful, and productive lands in our Nation. And there is no doubt that some of them should be preserved as what they are, which happen to be national treasures. But, unfortunately, the Federal Government owns far too much land. It owns far more of these Federal public lands than it should own and far more of these lands than it can possibly take care of. Let’s take a look at this map, for example….
“Notice, by the way, that in every State east of Colorado, the Federal Government owns less than 15 percent of the land — in most States, significantly less. In every State west of Colorado, the Federal Government owns more than 15 percent of the land, and in many cases, a whole lot more than 15 percent.
“The sheer volume of land that it owns is nothing short of staggering. In fact, the Federal Government owns 640 million acres of land. This is a total larger than the entireties of France, Spain, Germany, Poland, Italy, the United Kingdom, Austria, Switzerland, and the Netherlands combined. That is how much land the Federal Government owns just in America. With such a vast estate, it is no wonder that there is currently a $19.38 billion maintenance backlog on those lands. Of that backlog, $11.92 billion is on lands owned and managed by just the National Park Service. In fact, there are National Park Service backlogs in every single State in the country, as this map demonstrates….
“The backlog for the parks in Rhode Island is just under $1 million. But at the other end of the spectrum, California alone has a whopping $1.8 billion maintenance backlog just on its national parks alone. That is in just one State. What does that mean? That means the damage from wildfires, ill-kept roads and trails, and neglected facilities have actually kept citizens from accessing our national treasures — national treasures like Yosemite and Yellowstone, our National Mall and the Grand Canyon…..
“All the while, Washington continues to purchase ever more land, so the maintenance backlog continues to grow. This must not continue….
“If we continue on this path, we will only do greater disservice to our citizens and to the lands themselves. That is why I have introduced an amendment that would stop the Federal Government’s use of taxpayer dollars to acquire more lands in the next year. Specifically, it would prevent the money currently going to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Range Improvement Funds, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service from being used to acquire new lands that the Federal Government cannot properly care for. It is important, when describing a piece of legislation — in this case, an amendment to another piece of legislation — to explain both what it does and what it does not do. Let me be very clear in telling you what this amendment does not do. This amendment would not reduce the dollar amount being given to any of these programs — not one of them, not by one dollar. It would simply reauthorize the money to ensure that it is being used to care for the lands we already own and lands that need to be cared for so desperately….
“Voting against this amendment means you are willing to have the gluttonous Federal Government continue to acquire more land, even while it refuses to and professes itself to be utterly incapable of maintaining the land it has.”
Freedom First Society: New Mexico Senator Tom Udall spoke in opposition to the Lee amendment. Tom Udall’s father, Stewart Udall was Secretary of the Interior during the Kennedy-Johnson administrations. Stewart Udall played a central role in the enactment of the Wilderness Act of 1964 and the establishment of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Senator Tom Udall (D-New Mexico):
“Mr. President, I rise to oppose the Lee amendment and efforts to undermine the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This amendment would prohibit the Department of Interior from using land and water conservation funds to acquire Federal lands and waters. The underlying bill actually increases funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund by $30 million, and it does so with deep bipartisan support from a majority of Senators. The crucial point here is that this bill passed the Appropriations Committee 31 to 0, so this is a broadly supported program and a broadly supported bill.”