Congress Includes Land Grab Provisions in National Defense Authorization
Critics consider those provisions pork because they have nothing to do with defense or national security. The NDAA provides guidance for U.S. defense spending and policy. It is considered a “must-pass” legislation.
The public land provisions are included the text of the NDAA for fiscal 2015 under “TITLE XXX—NATURAL RESOURCES RELATED GENERAL PROVISIONS.”
According to a Democrat summary of the 2015 NDDA initially provided to CQ Roll Call, the legislation “is vital to our national security and provides our men and women in uniform with the tools they need as well as the benefits and support that they have earned and deserve.”
Nevertheless, a Senate aide, before the NDAA was published late on Tuesday, warned Breitbart News, that land provisions were being negotiated for inclusion in the NDAA. The aide was proven right.
The Senate aide told Breitbart News that highlights of the lands provision include:
- 275,000 acres designated as new Wilderness Areas;
- A Women’s History Museum;
- Four new National Parks seven National Park studies for new parks to be;
- 16 National Heritage extensions;
- Three new Wild and Scenic River (WSR) designations and three new WSR studies that are expected to become new designations; and
- Land entitlement for Sealaska, an Alaska Native Regional Corporation
Conservative Review indicated that some Republicans are driving the efforts to attach the public land package to the NDAA, adding that “the [land grab] bills under discussion are precisely the sorts of expansions of federal land that principled conservatives have regularly objected to.”
“Jamming liberal pet projects into a defense bill at the expense of American’s best and bravest is something you’d expect from the Left. Sadly, it’s some liberal Republicans leading the charge this time,” Gaston Mooney, the executive director of Conservative Review, told Breitbart News. “Proponents of this land grab are trying to conceal the legislative language amongst other must pass legislation that is critical for our national security.”
“This is akin to the Pelosi strategy of passing the bill to find out what is in it. If a bill can’t pass on its own, it has no business being hidden among hundreds of pages of text,” he added. “Further, it is completely unacceptable for liberal pet projects, like a $500 million museum honoring the Planned Parenthood founder and an anti-military activist among others, to be funded on the backs of our troops.”
Buck McKeon (R-CA), the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) the ranking-member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, did not immediately respond to requests for comment. They both worked on the defense authorization.
According to a recent estimate by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the federal government already owns “about 640 million acres of land, more than one-quarter of the nation’s total land area.”
The majority of that land is managed by the Department of interior, which has a maintenance backlog of about $20 billion for the land it already owns, according to the office of Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK).
According to Conservative Review , it is a few members of Congress who are pushing for the inclusion of the land grab package, including some lawmakers who were voted out office or are retiring.
“Their gamble is that the imperative of passing an authorization bill for our military will override principled objections to their land grab,” writes Conservative Review, later adding, “It’s this type of legislative log rolling that has led to the explosion of government and exactly what voters rejected at the polls on November 4.”
Dan Caldwell, the legislative director for Concerned Veterans of America, expressed disappointment that members of Congress were trying to fund a public land package through an NDAA that cuts benefits to troops.
“It is absolutely disgraceful that there are members of Congress who are pushing to include funding in the National Defense Authorization Act for a massive federal government land grab, a women’s history museum, and other pet projects while raising healthcare and housing costs for our troops when many of them continue to risk their lives every day in combat in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan,” Caldwell told Breibart News.
“In addition, many of these same members of Congress have refused to adequately address other long-term issues with the defense budget- including the threat of sequestration and the broken acquisition system which wastes billions of dollars while failing to deliver much-needed equipment to our war fighters,” he added. “Instead of crafting serious and forward-thinking defense policy, it appears that many members of Congress are more interested in rewarding political supporters and engaging in cronyism.”
Carl Levin (D-MI), the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services and Rep. McKeon are listed as the primary sponsors of the bill.