While Congress tackles all the responsibilities it should have already dealt with this year, Senator Harry Reid (D–NV) is hoping to sneak through legislation comprised of more than 100 bills that couldn’t pass on their own merit. This drastic expansion of federally owned lands has not even been introduced as a bill, but Reid hopes to jam it through before Christmas.
The Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2010 is set to designate hundreds of thousands of acres of land under the control of the federal government. Yesterday, Michelle Malkin went on a media tour exposing this secret attempt. The piece of legislation has no official name because Reid has refused to introduce it or give any opportunity for public debate. Some of the highlights of the bill include:
- $17 million for 30 acres to expand ownership of lands near Jimmy Carter’s boyhood home. That’s almost $600,000 an acre.
- $500,000 for a study to see if the Hudson River Valley is of national significance.
- $26 million for submerged and privately owned areas in the Virgin Islands—another 8,600 acres.
- $10 million to create a 100-acre “buffer” expansion of Morristown National Historical Park and $100,000 for signs.
- $16 million for 89,000 acres (or 139 square miles) of Valles Caldera National Preserve.
Most of the other portions are coming to light only as they are discovered. This bill is product of closed-door negotiations between Reid and Senator Barbara Boxer (D–CA). No one has been given an opportunity to estimate the costs involved. No Senator has been given an opportunity to introduce amendments. While the preservation of designated historical and natural sites is a legitimate issue for Congress, Senate leadership has offered no opportunity for consideration or public input.
Heritage has long been concerned about the inefficiency involved with relinquishing private land to the federal government. In addition, federal lands make border enforcement more difficult. Just last year, President Obama passed a 1,000-page, $8 billion massive government takeover of lands, restricting access to energy and suppressing economic development.
Reid will not only battle those Republicans who would like to see an open debate; House Democrats would like their constitutional right to make changes. “I feel it is imperative that the House Natural Resources Committee and House leadership has equal say in what legislation is included in a final package,” Democrat Representative Raul Grijalva (D–AZ) told Politico. Boxer seems to care little about the input of House Members, worrying only about the 60 votes required in the Senate. By refusing to introduce this legislation days before its consideration and attempt at passage, the House will be pressured to rubber stamp anything it receives from the Senate.
This is just another example of a Congress that is determined to ignore the American people. Congress should not forget the fact that it is directly accountable to the public. The recent election has proven that Americans will not stand for this type of leadership. It should serve as notice that hostile tactics and suppressed consideration was not what the Founding Fathers had in mind, nor is it what voters will accept.