Republicans Ask Natural Resources Committee not to Markup Spending Bill, Focus Instead on ‘Critical Needs’

By Nathan Worcester
Nathan Worcester
Nathan Worcester
Nathan Worcester is an environmental reporter at The Epoch Times.
August 31, 2021 Updated: August 31, 2021

Republicans on the House Committee on Natural Resources have penned a letter urging its chair, Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D.-Ariz), not to proceed with a markup of the $3.5 trillion spending bill scheduled for 10 AM on Sept. 2—but the appeal may have fallen on deaf ears.

The letter also requested that Rep. Grijalva join with Republicans “in urging Speaker Pelosi to call the House back into an emergency session.”

The committee is just one of many scheduled to mark up its portion of the reconciliation package. The markup language was noticed on Aug. 31, one day after Republicans released their letter.

“We have grave concerns about the extremely partisan budget reconciliation package slated for consideration, as it will attack safe and reliable American energy production, resurrect arcane work programs at a time when employers are already struggling to get people back into the workforce, pile insurmountable debt on future generations, make the U.S. more dependent on foreign adversaries like China, and hamstring our recovering economy,” wrote the authors of the letter, who were led by the Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R.-Ark).

“However, this week is not the time for the committee’s majority to be advancing partisan wish lists,” the letter continued. “Thousands of Afghan refugees are arriving to the U.S. daily with no long-term resettlement plan. Hurricane Ida is ravaging the Gulf Coast. Wildfires are decimating vast swaths of our country, destroying homes, property, and wildlife habitats. A humanitarian, public safety and environmental crisis continues to rage as a result of this administration’s failure to secure our southern border.”

“America is facing crises both at home and abroad, yet Congress is nowhere to be found. It is past time for us to come back to D.C. and tackle the critical needs of our country.”

The committee will consider allocating roughly $30 billion, according to a Medium article from Democrats on the committee, who added that they think “the need is much greater than that because of the economic potential and the risk of climate change.”

That money would include $1 billion for the Bureau of Indian Affairs to use for “Tribal climate resilience and adaptation programs,” as well as hundreds of millions more dedicated to various forms of “climate resilience.”

It would also include $3 billion for a “Civilian Climate Corps,” a look back to the Great Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps. The money would be distributed to subsidiary climate corps in the National Park Service ($1.7 billion), the Fish and Wildlife Service ($400 million), the Bureau of Land Management ($900 million), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ($120 million). It would also include $500 million for a Tribal Civilian Climate Corps.

In a statement to The Epoch Times, Rep. Westerman, who noted that the committee would be charged with allocating “a whopping $31.6 billion,” criticized the proposed corps, which he described as a “1930s work program.”

“At a time when U.S. businesses can’t find labor, it’s especially atrocious to resurrect a government jobs program for unskilled labor while killing private sector, high paying careers in energy and minerals, which will send U.S. jobs and wealth to foreign countries and wreak havoc on rural economies,” added Rep. Westerman.

As of early August, CNBC reported there were 1 million more job openings than job seekers in the United States. The gap may be due to significant unemployment benefits enjoyed by workers during the pandemic, with the Labor Department estimating that nearly 9 million Americans were receiving benefits through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Security (CARES) Act as of July 2021.

A spokesperson for Democrats on the committee did not directly respond to the Republicans’ letter. The spokesperson did not comment on whether there were any plans to postpone the markup or whether Rep. Grijalva would join the call for an emergency session.

Nathan Worcester
Nathan Worcester
Nathan Worcester is an environmental reporter at The Epoch Times.