Why Trump must veto the federal land grab bill

The ongoing ‘War on the West’

– – Sunday, March 3, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

President Trump gave one of his most memorable and impactful speeches two weeks ago when he systematically dismantled the case for socialism. In that speech, he recalled the economic harm and destruction in nations that have adopted socialism, communism or Stalinism. “We will never be a socialist country,” Mr. Trump pledged in his speech in Florida.

Well said. And the first big step that Mr. Trump could take in preventing any slippery slide in that direction would be to veto the Land and Water Conservation Fund bill, which would enable the federal government to spend $9 billion to purchase millions of acres of private lands for “conservation.” What? Uncle Sam is going to take out of private hands millions more acres of America’s valuable land mass? This is the reverse of privatization — it is the nationalizing our nation’s farm land, forests, streams and pastures.

I am told by House Republican Policy Committee Chairman Gary Palmer that this land grab was a high priority of the anti-growth environmental groups that oppose further development in the Western states — where most of this land would be seized. Amazingly, a Republican-controlled Senate approved the federal land grab with little debate and the House under Nancy Pelosi snuck the bill through with virtually no debate at all. It’s a good bet almost none of the House or Senate members read this 700 page bill.

According to an analysis by Rep. Garret Graves of Louisiana, and an expert on natutral resources issues, the bill “permanently authorizes $9 billion per decade for the Land and Water Conservation Fund to acquire new federal and state lands.” My Heritage Foundation colleague Nick Loris reports that the Interior Department already has a $16 billion maintenance backlog on the lands the government already owns, but can’t take care of. At its core this legislation violates a central and common-sense principle of the Republican Party and its fight against the Democrats’ ongoing War on the West. That principle dating back to the Newt Gingrich years is simple: Congress shall allow no net loss of private property to the feds. For every acre the government plans to purchase or simple seize, it must sell off at least one acre in return.

The federal land holdings are already gargantuan with almost one-third owned by the government and with half of the land in the Western states owned by Uncle Sam. In Nevada and Utah, the government owns almost two-thirds of the land. President Obama nationalized millions of additional federal lands — and though Republicans whined, they did little to stop him.

How depressing it would be if Donald Trump — who has been rightly critical of the Obama land grabs, launched a new federal land purchasing program on his watch. One common justification for federal land ownership is to preserve these properties with national significance for future generations. But the federal government has proven over the last 30 years that it is an atrocious protector of our forests and wildlife. The feds have let millions of acres of federal lands be destroyed through awful land management and even “let it burn” policies during forest fires.

But there is another even more important reason Mr. Trump should veto this spending bill. It would take royalty payments from valuable leases for drilling for oil and gas and and use those funds for the government’s land purchasing scheme.

This would short-circuit a plan that Rep. Palmer has proposed. He smartly wants to devote potentially trillions of dollars raised from the leases to pay for a massive infrastructure bill. We need more roads, bridges, better ports, new pipelines and an ingenious way to pay for them is through leases. Two new studies from the Committee to Unleash Prosperity estimate that the net value of drilling and mining on federal lands and waters could reach $3 trillion to $5 trillion over the next 30 years. That money could pay for a lot of roads, airports, pipelines, bridges and fiber optic cables to connect America — and without having to charge taxpayers a single penny.

I would wager to bet that President Trump has no idea that this land socialism is tucked inside a bill that he is expected to sign. Don’t do it, Mr. President. Fight against land grab socialism and fund your coveted infrastructure plan by charging fair value leases on drilling and mining. If there were ever a bill that deserves Donald Trump’s first veto, it is this one.

Source: Why Trump must veto the federal land grab bill


9th Circuit gets another Trump-picked judge after White House bypasses consultation with Dems

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed President Trump’s nominee to be a judge on the liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in a party-line vote — and, in a historic snub, the White House ignored the input of the judge’s two Democratic home-state senators in the process.

The aggressive and unprecedented move to bypass the traditional “blue slip” consultation process and plow ahead with the confirmation comes as the Trump administration seeks to systematically erode left-wing dominance on the key appellate court, which Trump has called “disgraceful” and politically biased.

With a sprawling purview representing nine Western states, the appellate court has long been a thorn in the side of the Trump White House, with rulings against his travel ban policy and limits on funding to “sanctuary cities.” A lawsuit is currently pending before the 9th Circuit concerning Trump’s emergency declaration over border security — and Trump had sarcastically predicted that Democrats would purposefully file suit in the San Francisco-based appellate court to improve their odds.

The new 9th Circuit judge, Seattle attorney Eric Miller, was confirmed 53-46. Miller was one of the 51 federal judicial nominees left over from the previous Congress whom the White House re-nominated last month.

Miller, currently the appellate chairman of the high-powered law firm Perkins Coie, will replace Judge Richard Tallman, a Bill Clinton appointee who assumed senior status March 2018. Miller is the fifth former clerk to Associate Justice Clarence Thomas to be nominated by Trump to a federal appellate court, including embattled D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Neomi Rao.

Miller represented the government before the Supreme Court when he served from 2007 to 2012 as an Assistant to the Solicitor General of the United States. He was also Deputy General Counsel of the Federal Communications Commission.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., with, from left, Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., McConnell, John Thune, R-S.D., and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, speakING to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., with, from left, Sens. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., McConnell, John Thune, R-S.D., and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, speakING to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Among those objecting to Miller’s nomination were Washington State’s two Democratic senators, Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray. Aides say Miller’s confirmation marks the first time the Senate has strayed from tradition and confirmed a judicial nominee over the dissent of both home-state senators.

“This is wrong. It is a dangerous road for the Senate to go down,” Murray said Tuesday on the Senate floor. “Confirming this 9th Circuit court nominee without the consent or true input of both home-state senators, and after a sham hearing, would be a dangerous first for this Senate.”

Miller was nominated last year but faced opposition from Democrats, in part over his views on issues of tribal sovereignty.

The White House has previously signaled it will also plow ahead with other 9th Circuit nominations in other states without using the “blue slip” consultation process. The Sacramento Bee reported last year that White House officials had been negotiating with California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris about 9th Circuit appointments, but the dialogue collapsed, and the White House proceeded to announce three nominees over their objections.

Those nominees — Patrick Bumatay, Daniel Collins and Kenneth Kiyul Lee (all from the Golden State, and reportedly all members of the conservative Federalist Society) — have yet to be confirmed.

GOP critics have branded the court the “Nutty 9th,” in part because many of its rulings have been overturned by the Supreme Court.

Last November, Chief Justice John Roberts openly disputed Trump’s comments that the nation has “Obama judges” and partisan hacks on the courts. The move marked a highly unusual challenge to the White House from a sitting Supreme Court justice, and prompted some observers to accuse Roberts of naivete.

“What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them,” Roberts said in the head-turning statement.

But Trump, invoking the 9th Circuit, fired back immediately.

“Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have ‘Obama judges,’ and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country,” Trump tweeted.

“It would be great if the 9th Circuit was indeed an ‘independent judiciary,’ but if it is why are so many opposing view (on Border and Safety) cases filed there, and why are a vast number of those cases overturned,” Trump continued. “Please study the numbers, they are shocking. We need protection and security — these rulings are making our country unsafe! Very dangerous and unwise!”

Fox News’ Bill Mears and Adam Shaw and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source: 9th Circuit gets another Trump-picked judge after White House bypasses consultation with Dems