House GOP broke rules on Bears Ears hearing, but keeps pushing bill down fast track
That was the headline of the editorial in the Salt Lake Tribune yesterday shortly after the House GOP forced a second reading on House Concurrent Resolutions 11 (Bears Ears National Monument) and 12 (Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument), conveniently bypassing a required public standing committee hearing, and placing these two bills at the top of the 3rd Reading calendar to get voted on in the House TODAY at 11AM without having to deal with all that, you know, democracy stuff.
Democrats fought for a proper hearing, and although Republicans conceded that they violated House rules by holding an improper hearing last week, they voted 55-17 yesterday to say, basically, that the rules don’t matter, and pushed the measures ahead anyway.
What are HCR 11 and 12?
These two measures are concurrent resolutions to President Donald Trump and federal legislators asking him to erase the Bears Ears National Monument designation and to significantly reduce the size of Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument.
The argument around these resolutions is a long-standing debate about how public lands should be managed — by state officials itching to sell and lease off swaths of land to private fossil fuel and mining interests or by national agencies seeking to conserve the land and its beauty and numerous cultural heritage sites. In the case of Bears Ears, on the one side stand GOP state and congressional representatives and on the other side stands the majority of Utahns, as well as the historic Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition of 5 nations and 30 tribes.
Apparently government rules and all those people who favor the two national monuments have gotten in the way of our GOP leaders doing whatever they want with federal land in Utah.
Our congressional representatives repeatedly mischaracterize the designations of the two monuments as “Presidential overreach” and examples of how the federal government has forced unwanted measures on Utah lands. House Majority Leader Greg Hughes has called Obama’s executive action on Bears Ears “offensive” to Utahns, ignoring the fact that it was Utahns who worked tirelessly to rally support around Bears Ears and to petition the federal government for National Monument designation.
Why do HCR 11 and HCR 12 matter? Our GOP leaders hope to pass these two measures to prove to President Trump that Utahns truly resent our national monument designations. Passing them quickly would bolster current discussions with Trump about rescinding Bears Ears.
That’s right — this disregard for the rules of government and the push to pass these resolutions is a PR move at the state level to rally federal action to strip the Bears Ears designation and allow our public lands to be sold off by state officials to the highest bidder.
- That’s why U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop quietly slipped a change to the way public land is managed into the House rules bill at the start of the congressional session, giving state and local officials greater control over federal land.
- That’s why U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch released a statement on Friday about his meeting with Trump, saying that the President is “eager to work with me on Bears Ears”.
- That’s why Rep. Greg Hughes sponsored HCR 11 and Rep. Mike Noel (who has put his name in to become the next head of the BLM) sponsored HCR 12 and put both bills on the fast track.
- And that’s why the House Rules Committee held an improper hearing on HCR 11 and HCR 12 .
CALL TO ACTION
It’s time to hold our state representatives accountable!
- Call, text or email your GOP state representative THIS MORNING. Let them know you noticed how they voted yesterday on the House floor to disregard the rules of government and that you will be watching them today to see how they vote, and that you hope they will vote NO on HCR 11 and HCR 12. For representatives on the House Rules Committee, also let them now that you noticed how they voted in the House Rules Committee vote last Friday (see the list below to find out how your representative voted). Find your legislator here.
- Let us know who you talked to and how it went. Remember — call your state representatives only. State senators will not be voting on these resolutions today. If your representative already opposes HCR 11 and HCR 12, no action is necessary at this time, but you can still contact them to thank them for opposing these resolutions. Why only call GOP representatives? Because this has become a partisan issue on the Hill, even though support for the national monuments is not a partisan issue among Utahns.
- And while you’re at it, sign this petition trending on our Petitions, Petitions! page to oppose Utah Rep. Mike Noel as head of the BLM.
House Rules Committee vote on HCR 11 and HCR 12, Friday, January 27th, 2017:
- In favor: Rep. Fawson, Rep. Noel, Rep. Val Peterson, Rep. Schultz, Rep. Stanard, Rep. Watkins.
- Opposed: Rep. Chavez-Houck, Rep. Moss
House floor 55-17 vote to reject Democrats calls for a true public hearing yesterday
- Democrats fighting to get a real public hearing were Rep. Joel Briscoe and Rep. Brian King