This Week in Washington by Senator Mike Lee

senator mike lee

Wild Lands Policy Revoked

Earlier this month, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced he would not designate any lands as “Wild Lands” in accordance with the 2011 Continuing Resolution. Secretary Salazar has rightly recognized that Congress—not the Department of the Interior—has the authority to designate wilderness areas. He has also recognized the importance of working with federal, state and local representatives in managing federal land.

With nearly 70 percent of Utah landsunder federal control, it is critical that we have a say early in the process to protect the rights of Utahns and all Americans to access and use federallands. Seeing this resolution rescinded has been a top priority of mine since my first day in office.

I sent a letter to Secretary Salazar in January requesting all documents regarding the formation of the new policy,including meeting notes, electronic and hard-copy correspondence, and any maps that include Utah lands affected by the order.

Salazar’s failure to respond to the request forced me to take other measures in order to encourage compliance.  I notified the Secretary that I would put a “hold” on the nomination of Dan Ashe as Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service until all documents pertaining to the formulation of the “wild lands” policy had been turned over.  After more than four months, the Secretary’s office finally complied in part with the document request this week.

The ‘wild lands’ policy that was abandoned by the Secretary would have harmed the Utah economy, prevented job growth, blocked domestic energy development, and resulted in less revenue for our state. I appreciate that the Secretary has shifted his position and we can now work together with state and local officials to determine the future designation of our current wilderness study areas.

Rising unemployment and the President’s Failed Policies

This month’s jobs report underscores what has already been a tough week for our economy.  According to the Bureau ofLabor Statistics, the unemployment rate edged up to 9.1% in May, from a level of 9.0% in April and 8.8% in March.

In addition, long-term unemployed (those unemployed for 27 weeks or longer) numbers jumped up to 45.1% and 6.2 million in May, from 43.4% and 5.8 million in April.

After 28 months in office, it is clear the President’s policies have failed to positively affect our economy.  His two signature accomplishments—ObamaCare and the stimulus package—have only exacerbated the two biggest challenges we face: overspending and mounting debt.

Furthermore, Senate Democrats haven’t passed a budget in more than two years, and couldn’t even bring themselves to vote for the President’s proposal.  I will continue to make these issues a priority and demand action from Democratic leaders who have failed to take charge on nearly every single issue.

Call for hearing on the BBA

As our astounding national debt mounts, Congress must take swift action to correct the fundamental and structural problems with the way Washington spends money.  I joined the other 7 Republican members of the Judiciary Committee in sending a letter to Senator Dick Durbin, Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, calling for immediate hearings on the Hatch-Lee Balanced Budget Amendment.

The current system encourages Congress to overspend, and only a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution willmake subsequent spending reforms enforceable.

Libya Resolution

Nearly 90 days after the initiation of force in Libya, we have yet to see a debate on President Obama’s failure to request authorization of U.S. troops on the ground there.  I joined Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) and Bob Corker (R-TN) in introducing a joint resolution requiring the Administration to provide a detailed justification of U.S. operations in Libya.

The resolution further calls on the President to request authorization for the continuation of U.S. involvement in NATO activities and states that Congress should fully debate such a request expediently.

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