For Immediate Release
Monday, April 10, 2000 Contact: Mike Hardiman 202-251-3473
Opponents of the "CARA" land acquisition trust fund won significant victories last week in both the Senate and House. HR 701 / S 25, the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA), is a $3 billion annual trust fund for land acquisition and a variety of other purposes. The Senate budget resolution will not include a "marker" for CARA. An amendment in the Budget Committee to include funds for CARA was shelved by a 13 to 9 vote. Not wanting to suffer a second defeat, proponents chose not to bring the issue up on the floor. The House budget resolution also has no CARA marker.
Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) proposed the CARA amendment in committee, but was stymied by Senator Slade Gorton (R-WA), who proposed a substitute. If the $3 billion per year allowance for CARA had been included in the budget resolution, then the legislation itself would only need 51 votes to be approved by the Senate. Now it will need 60 votes to override the budget guidelines.
"Senator Gorton defended property owners and recreational and multiple use of federal lands. Senator Johnson chose to expose farmers, ranchers and all property owners in South Dakota to massive adverse condemnation of private property by power hungry government agents," said Chuck Cushman, Executive Director of the American Land Rights Association (ALRA).
In the House, a floor vote on CARA has been postponed until at least sometime in May. Opposition has been expanding well beyond the Western lawmakers who have bitterly opposed the measure all along. Their objections include unprecedented funding for land acquisition combined with no restrictions on adverse condemnation of private property by states using federal funds.
Rules Committee Chairman Dave Dreier withdrew his cosponsorship, along with two other members. Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich told the Washington Post about CARA, "I think that kind of major decision about resources ought to be made by the next president." The Conservative Action Team, a fifty person coalition of conservative House members, produced a three page Policy Brief objecting to CARA on budgetary impact, property rights, grants to environmental groups, federal land use planning and other reasons.
Appropriations Interior Subcommittee Chairman Ralph Regula has been highly critical of CARA, recently issuing a two page list of objections to the bill. Regula pointed out that the the Park Service and other land management agencies have a multi-billion dollar backlog of maintenance projects, and should not take more land until they can manage the empire they already control.
Regula was joined by fourteen "budget hawks" who circulated a Dear Colleague letter pointing out some of the same issues. The March 2000 issue of Government Executive Magazine has a lengthy article and descriptions of the massive backlog at the National Park Service. See http://www.govexec.com/gpp/0300nps.htm for details.
"What a pile of pork. Everything from police officers for Eskimos in Alaska (Title 6) to dock construction for Cajuns in Louisiana (Title 1). And oodles of grant money for environmentalists (Title 3), land grabs (Title 2), and expanded enforcement of the Endangered Species Act (Title 7). For a Republican Congress to propose this is truly an incredible disgrace," said Cushman.
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