Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee
The House Natural Resources Committee voted to grant Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) the authority to issue subpoenas, and approved several water and energy bills.
“This Committee, regardless of who is in power, cannot be an inconvenience to whatever administration happens to be in power,” Chair Grijalva said. “And we have never confronted an administration like the Trump administration that sees the role of this branch of government as irrelevant and inconvenient. And they want to, in their own imperial style, do what they want without any checks, without any balances, and without any oversight. And that is a dangerous path. And if anything else, if we can contribute to affirming the role of this Congress and this Committee in relationship to our representative government, then the subpoena is not only important, it’s necessary. Because we are on a dangerous path.”
Video of Chair Grijalva’s remarks is available online.
The Trump administration’s stonewalling of Congress has reached a critical level, and the Committee held a hearing in September 2019 specifically on the administration’s failure to comply with even minimal requests for information. Under former Secretary Ryan Zinke and current Secretary David Bernhardt, Department of the Interior offices and agencies responding to Committee requests for information have sent thousands of pages of entirely blacked-out data, PDFs of wingdings and unreadable gibberish, unnecessarily redacted documents, and other non-responsive material.
The administration often points to the number of pages it has provided in response to inquiries as evidence of cooperation, irrespective of the uselessness of those pages’ content.
The Committee released a new Medium post yesterday detailing the Committee’s history of seeking information from the administration and why today’s vote was necessary. The post is online at http://bit.ly/2UM8FtV.
The measures advanced today included H.R. 1904, Chair Grijalva’s Indian Water Rights Settlement Extension Act, which helps ensure that the federal government meets its legal responsibility by providing sufficient funding for tribal water rights settlements, a key mechanism for funding and providing running water for tribes.
The Committee passed two bills sponsored by Representative TJ Cox (D-Calif.): the Move Water Now Act (H.R. 5316), which provides funding to repair damage caused by land subsidence, and the Disadvantaged Community Drinking Water Assistance Act (H.R. 5347), which creates a grant program to bring safe drinking water to disadvantaged communities.
It also approved Senator Jeff Merkley’s (D-Ore.) S. 832, which nullifies the Supplemental Treaty Between the United States of America and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of Indians of Middle Oregon.
Bill texts, amendments, amendments in the nature of a substitute, and vote counts can be found at the House of Representatives Committee Repository at http://bit.ly/2USeaam.
Markup action on the bills approved can viewed at http://bit.ly/2SmMcCg.
Bills Approved by the Committee
H.R. 1904 (Representative Grijalva), To amend the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 to make the Reclamation Water Settlements Fund permanent. “Indian Water Rights Settlement Extension Act.”
H.R. 644 (Representative Rob Bishop), To approve the settlement of the water rights claims of the Navajo Nation in Utah, and for other purposes. “Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act of 2019.”
H.R. 4444 (Representative Gosar), To require the Administrator of the Western Area Power Administration to establish a pilot project to provide increased transparency for customers, and for other purposes. “Western Area Power Administration Transparency Act.”
H.R. 5316 (Representative Cox), To provide for the restoration of the original carrying capacity of canals impacted by land subsidence, and for other purposes. “Move Water Now Act.”
H.R. 5347 (Representative Cox), To require the Secretary of the Interior to establish a grant program to close gaps in access to safe drinking water in disadvantaged communities, and for other purposes. “Disadvantaged Community Drinking Water Assistance Act.”
S. 832 (Senator Merkley), A bill to nullify the Supplemental Treaty Between the United States of America and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of Indians of Middle Oregon, concluded on November 15, 1865.
Committee resolution authorizing issuance of subpoenas related to mismanagement, waste, fraud, abuse, and wrongful conduct in relation to functions within the jurisdiction of the Committee on Natural Resources.