Tom McClintock

Tom McClintock

CALIFORNIA's 4th DISTRICT

Puerto Rico - Amendment to H.R. 5278 (PROMESA)

2016/05/25

The House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on Puerto Rico on May 24th and 25th to markup H.R. 5278 (PROMESA). The committee has jurisdiction over all U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico. The hearing examined the legislation and also the financial issues confronting the territory. Congressman McClintock, a member of the committee, delivered remarks at the hearing and he offered the following amendment to H.R. 5278:

Amendment to H.R. 5278 (PROMESA)
Congressman Tom McClintock
House Natural Resources Committee
May 25, 2016

This amendment simply exempts from this act the debt issued by Puerto Rico that was backed by its constitutional pledge of full faith and credit and taxing power.  Of the commonwealth’s $72 billion of outstanding bonds, this would exempt roughly $18 billion of constitutionally protected debt.  And lest we forget, only 12 percent of Puerto Rico’s G.O. bonds are owned by hedge funds.  Forty percent are held by the people of Puerto Rico themselves.

I laid out the reasons for this amendment in my remarks yesterday. I agree that there is no reason to treat San Juan’s municipal debt any differently than San Jose’s.  But constitutionally issued debt is fundamentally different, and its reliability must be maintained.  

This is important to every state that relies on constitutional full faith and credit pledges.  The federal government has – until now – never threatened or considered undermining constitutional full faith and credit guarantees by allowing Chapter Nine provisions to be applied to sovereign debt – whether that debt is issued by a territory or a state.

If Congress is willing to undermine a commonwealth’s constitutionally guaranteed bonds today, there is every reason to believe it would be willing to undermine state guarantees tomorrow.  This, in turn, invites credit markets to question any constitutional debt guarantee as no longer secured on constitutional bedrock but rather dependent on the shifting whims of Congress.  If they do, the value of those bonds is devalued and interest rates paid by taxpayers on that debt will increase.  

The Governors of six states have already issued this warning: that “granting Puerto Rico such unprecedented bankruptcy authority would likely raise the borrowing costs of our states, reducing our ability to invest in vital services and eroding investor confidence in the whole notion of full faith and credit debt.”  Economist Ike Brannon of Capital Policy Analytics has noted that “There is evidence that the mere introduction of this legislation is already having adverse effects on the market.  The cost of credit default swaps on Illinois general obligation debt, which essentially function as insurance against default, has gone up nearly 100 percent this year, signaling a burgeoning uncertainty over the protections afforded to ‘full faith and credit’ debt.”  He estimates than even a minor 10 to 15 basis point increase in financing costs will cost taxpayers an additional $4 billion to $8 billion.

PROMESA could have respected the $18 billion of constitutionally-issued debt, while applying Chapter Nine to the remaining $54 billion of municipal debt of Puerto Rico.  Its supporters claim this is their intent, and they point to language in Title II of the bill instructing the control board to “respect the relative lawful priorities in the constitution, other laws, or agreements.”  The problem is that among those “other laws” is the government’s repudiation of its debt.  Further, the same section instructs the control board to “provide adequate funding for public pension systems,” and includes other contradictory instructions.  The only possible interpretation of these conflicting provisions is that the sanctity of the sovereign debt is subject to balancing – and therefore subordination to junior claims -- by the control board.  

This amendment removes any ambiguity by protecting the constitutionally issued debt from the effect of this bill.  If the supporters of this bill are sincere in their stated objective of wanting to protect Puerto Rico’s constitutionally issued debt, they should have no objection to this amendment.  If they are not sincere, then they should oppose the amendment, but at least openly admit their true intentions, and accept responsibility for the billions of dollars of increased interest costs that taxpayers across the country will have to pay on their state debts as markets adjust to this new world in which full faith and credit depends on the whim of Congress.

It is not only in the interests of high debt states like California, Illinois and New York to protect the full faith and credit guarantees -- it is also in the interest of the people of Puerto Rico to uphold the full faith and credit clause in their constitution.  They will desperately need that credibility in order to re-enter the credit market once their affairs are put back in order.

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Puerto Rico - Markup Hearing on H.R. 5278 (PROMESA)

2016/05/25

The House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on Puerto Rico on May 24th and 25th to markup H.R. 5278 (PROMESA). The committee has jurisdiction over all U.S. territories, including Puerto Rico. The hearing examined the legislation as well as the financial issues confronting the territory. Congressman McClintock is a member of the committee and delivered the following opening statement and also offered an amendment.

Opening Statement
Markup Hearing on H.R. 5278 – PROMESA
Congressman Tom McClintock
House Committee on Natural Resources
May 24, 2016

My central concern with this legislation continues to be that it potentially undermines the reliability of the constitutional full faith and credit guarantees of the states.  These guarantees allow states to borrow at extremely low interest rates because debt repayment has first claim on revenues.  PROMESA takes Chapter Nine bankruptcy provisions and applies them retroactively to the commonwealth’s constitutionally protected debt.

Supporters argue this couldn’t possibly affect state debt because the commonwealth is not a sovereign state but rather a territory over which the federal government has constitutional jurisdiction.  This argument misses the point.  The federal government has – until now – never threatened or considered undermining constitutional full faith and credit guarantees by allowing Chapter Nine provisions to be applied to sovereign debt – whether debt is issued by a territory or a state.

If Congress is willing to undermine a commonwealth’s constitutionally guaranteed bonds today, there is every reason to believe it would be willing to undermine state guarantees tomorrow.

This, in turn, invites credit markets to question any constitutional debt guarantee as no longer secured on constitutional bedrock but rather dependent on the shifting whims of Congress.  If they do, the value of those bonds is devalued and interest rates paid by taxpayers on that debt will increase.  

PROMESA could have respected the constitutionally-issued debt, while applying Chapter Nine to the municipal debt of Puerto Rico.  After all, there is no reason to treat San Juan’s municipal debt any differently than San Jose’s.  But constitutionally issued debt is fundamentally different, and its reliability must be maintained.   

Supporters say they have addressed this concern by inserting instructions to the Oversight Board to “respect the relative lawful priorities in the constitution, other laws, or agreements.”  I should point out that one of those “other laws” is the government’s unlawful repudiation of that debt.  

Furthermore, the same section instructs the Oversight Board to “provide adequate funding for public pension systems,” and includes other contradictory instructions.  Of even greater concern, this provision is completely absent from Title III, which actually provides for the debt restructuring.   The only possible interpretation of these provisions is that the sanctity of the sovereign debt is subject to balancing – and therefore subordination to junior claims -- by the Oversight Board.  

This concern is further amplified by provisions that prevent bond holders from enforcing their claims for a period of six months, but does not prevent the government from paying out other junior claims during this period.      

Honoring the rule of law and maintaining the commonwealth’s full faith and credit guarantee would be a powerful signal to bond markets that the United States stands by its promises, even when it is inconvenient.   Under current law, it is in the interest of both sides – debtor and creditor – to work out terms that both can live with to restructure and repay this debt.  It is also in the interest of the people of Puerto Rico to uphold the full faith and credit clause in their constitution, which will be vitally important to re-enter the credit market once their affairs are put back in order.  Indeed, until the prospect of a congressional bailout arose, Puerto Rico was negotiating terms of a debt restructuring with the mutual consent of its creditors.  

If supporters are sincere when they say that their intent is to preserve the constitutional guarantee of sovereign debt, they should have no objection to the amendment I will offer tomorrow.  That amendment will explicitly remove debt backed by the commonwealth’s full faith and credit pledge from this act altogether.  I believe the amendment will put to the test the sincerity of the supporters’ claims that they do not seek to repudiate constitutionally guaranteed debt.  

For myself, although I see many other flaws with this bill, I would support it with this amendment.  I would vigorously oppose it without the amendment.

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HR 2576 - Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act: No

2016/05/24

HR 2576 Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act: No.  This is a well-intentioned bill that accomplishes the opposite of what it is designed to do.  Its purpose is to expedite and standardize the evaluation of toxic chemicals.  Instead, it grants sweeping new powers to the EPA, removes the consideration of cost when conducting a risk evaluation, removes the “least burdensome regulation required” standard from current law, increases the fees charged to businesses and still allows states to adopt more stringent standards.  Thus, it greatly increases the burdens on low-regulatory states without easing the burdens on high-regulatory states.  

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Federal Lands Subcommittee Legislative Hearing on H.R. 3565, H.R. 3839, H.R. 4233, and H.R. 5132

2016/05/24

Congressman McClintock is the Chairman of the Federal Lands Subcommittee. The subcommittee held a legislative hearing on May 24th, 2016. Congressman McClintock delivered the following opening statement:

Chairman’s Opening Statement
House Committee on Natural Resources
Subcommittee on Federal Lands
May 24, 2016

Legislative Hearing on H.R. 3480, H.R. 4202, H.R. 4789, and H.R. 5244

Today, the Subcommittee on Federal Lands meets to consider four bills that seek either to improve visitor amenities or protect grounds of significance to the history of our exceptional republic.

Congressman John Katko of New York brings us H.R. 4202, which authorizes the National Park Service to conduct a special resource study of Fort Ontario in Oswego, New York to evaluate the site’s national significance and determine the suitability of its designation as a unit of the National Park System.  

Fort Ontario was first established in 1755 to defend Americans during the French and Indian Wars – really the first time our nation dealt with organized terrorism.  It played a role in the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 and served our country as hospital and training facilities and as a refugee center in the First and Second World Wars.  In 1946, after nearly 200 years of active military use, Fort Ontario was transferred to the State of New York, that has operated and maintained it ever since.

Dating back even farther is Fort Frederica, established by James Oglethorpe in 1736 to protect the southern boundary of the colony of Georgia from the Spanish – a reminder of the commitment of earlier generations to defend our Southern border.  Spanish incursions were turned back in the Battle of Bloody Marsh in 1742, in which the Fort’s garrison delivered a decisive victory.   By 1742, the Fort’s success made it obsolete and it was abandoned until 1936, when Franklin Roosevelt preserved the archeological remains through the Antiquities Act. 

H.R. 3480, authored by Congressman Buddy Carter, would authorize the National Park Service to acquire up to 275 acres for inclusion in the boundary of Fort Frederica National Monument on St. Simons Island, Georgia.  In keeping with our pledge to restore the Federal Government as a good neighbor to the surrounding communities, this bill comes to us with the unanimous support of the local governments and civic associations in the vicinity.

The next measure involves the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial on Arlington Ridge.  It includes the iconic image of U.S. Marines raising the flag at Iwo Jima.  The law establishing the memorial forbids any structures in proximity to the memorial which creates a fairly straight-forward mathematical problem.  One million visitors a year.  Zero restrooms.  Enough said.

Philanthropist David Rubenstein, who has become the Guardian Angel of our national monuments, has stepped forward with $5 million for repairs and rehabilitation of the memorial, and Congressman Don Beyer has stepped forward with this bill to amend the original law and allow a portion of these funds to relieve us of this problem.

Finally, Congressman Steve Knight of California brings us H.R. 5244, which would authorize the creation of a memorial in honor of those who lost their lives in the catastrophic collapse of the Saint Francis Dam in Los Angeles County in 1928.  That disaster made dam safety the sine qua non of dam construction and contributed to the engineering safety that is central to our modern dams. 

This memorial, in the Los Padres National Forest, would be created entirely through private donations.  The bill would create a 440 acre national monument encompassing the area devastated in the resulting flood.  In keeping with our determination to restore public access to the public lands, it would protect existing road access and grazing permits that are already allowed within the proposed monument and would protect an area that has experienced significant theft and vandalism in recent years. Congressman Knight has worked with local officials and others in the community in developing this bill.

In considering these bills, we need to be mindful of the enormous maintenance backlog that now confronts the National Park Service, and to minimize new commitments until that backlog is addressed.

With that, I look forward to hearing from the members of Congress who have joined us to testify on their legislation, as well as our other witnesses. I now recognize the ranking member for her statement.

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HR 4909 – National Defense Authorization Act of 2017: No

2016/05/19

HR 4909 – National Defense Authorization Act of 2017: No.  National defense is the federal government’s most fundamental responsibility, but this is not an excuse for waste and mismanagement within the defense establishment.  I especially object to provisions that prohibit BRAC review of obsolete or dysfunctional military bases and that increase ongoing manpower levels at a time we should be rebuilding our arsenals.  I object to provisions that use Overseas Contingency Operations as a Pentagon slush fund in a manner that assures additional supplemental funding will be needed later this year. Finally, I take particular exception to the suppression of an amendment offered by Mr. Gosar of Arizona that would forbid employment of illegal aliens in the American armed forces. 

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Reform in Mandatory Spending / Speaker’s Organizational Task Force

2016/05/18

Budget Proposal - Memo to the Speaker's Organizational Task Force (see also Memo on Reform in Unauthorized Appropriations)

TO: Speaker’s Organizational Task Force
FM: Tom McClintock
RE: Reform in Mandatory Spending
DT: May 18, 2016

I propose to bring mandatory spending under the same congressional control that we currently exercise over discretionary spending.

FIRST: The budget committee, in consultation with committees of jurisdiction, would set overall spending levels for mandatory programs and offer suggestions of how to achieve those levels, as is currently done.

SECOND: Once the budget is enacted, the committees of jurisdiction would prepare statutory changes in mandatory programs to meet the targets set in the budget, just as they do for reconciliation.

THIRD: The statutory changes in mandatory programs reported by the committees of jurisdiction would then be transmitted to the Appropriations Committee, which would incorporate them into the appropriate appropriations bills.

FOURTH: Amendments would be in order on the House floor to modify or supplement these changes to the extent they keep within the enacted budget levels.

FAQs:

How does this differ from reconciliation?   This process is in addition to the existing reconciliation process.  It would place mandatory spending changes directly into the individual appropriations bills to keep within the budget.  Reconciliation would still be available as an expedited process to fill in any gaps between the budget document and current law.

Doesn’t this make the Appropriations Committee a giant authorizing committee?  No.  The Appropriations Committee simply fulfills a ministerial function of incorporating the changes from the authorizing committees into the relevant appropriations bills.  It passes them through in the same manner as the Budget Committee passes through statutory changes reported by authorizing committees during reconciliation.

Couldn’t the Senate strip out these provisions?   Yes, and these differences would be resolved at conference, just as any other differences between the houses.  Reconciliation would remain available to fill in any gaps.

Doesn’t this complicate the already difficult process of adopting appropriations bills?  Yes and no.  Additional provisions often bring additional controversies – but they also can bring additional support.  It may actually make the process easier, because it would allow increases in discretionary spending to be offset by decreases in mandatory spending in the same bill, offering broader ground for consensus.  And clearly, it would make adoption of the budget easier because it offers much greater flexibility in trading discretionary and mandatory spending levels. 

How would this work on the floor?  Statutory changes could be amended in the same manner as any other provision of the appropriations bills, but would only be in order to the extent that the changes are necessary to meet the spending targets already agreed to in the enacted budget.

What rules changes would be required? House Rule XXI (2)(b) would need to be modified to allow these statutory changes to be included in appropriations bills, and a provision should be added to the House rules that specifies this process.  It would not require Senate action or presidential approval.  

 

 

 

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Reform in Unauthorized Appropriations / Speaker's Organizational Task Force

2016/05/18

Budget Proposal - Memo to the Speaker's Organizational Task Force (see also Memo on Reform in Mandatory Spending​)

TO: Speaker’s Organizational Task Force
FM: Tom McClintock
RE: Reform in Unauthorized Appropriations
DT: May 18, 2016

I propose to restore the House ban on unauthorized spending through a conference rule that includes the following provisions:

FIRST:  To direct all authorizing committees to identify any expired or soon to expire programs within their jurisdictions and to adopt a timetable for adopting legislation reauthorizing them.

SECOND: To direct the authorizing committees in this process:

     1.    Except for trust fund programs, to remove all possible mandatory spending provisions, and to require all revenues derived from these programs to be deposited in the Treasury and subject to annual congressional appropriation.
     2.    To remove all legislative and judicial authority ceded to the executive agencies in the program authorizations.  NO agency rule should have force of law without being enacted by Congress, and ALL legal disputes arising from these laws should be adjudicated by the federal courts and not by administrative agencies.
 
THIRD: To direct the Rules Committee members not to report any rule to the floor that waives a point of order on Rule XXI (2)(a) on any appropriations bill for a program that has not been reauthorized after the deadline set by the authorizing committee timetables, unless otherwise requested in writing by the chairman of the relevant committee of jurisdiction AND the chairman of the relevant Appropriations subcommittee.

FOURTH: To direct the Appropriations Committee members not to appropriate above the prior year’s appropriation for any program that  has not been reauthorized after the deadlines set by the authorizing committee timetables, unless otherwise requested in writing by the chairman of the relevant committee of jurisdiction AND the chairman of the relevant Appropriations subcommittee.

FAQ’s

Won’t this clog the committees with reauthorizing bills?  No, because the committees will set their own timetables based on their own estimates of work load and priorities and can alter these timetables if necessary.

What happens if the reauthorization fails?  Two things.  The Appropriations Committee would not approve funding above the prior year’s level for that program, and the Rules Committee would expose that appropriation to a point of order – unless the chairmen of the authorizing committee and the appropriations subcommittee both agreed to do otherwise.  

Wouldn’t this jeopardize vital programs like the State Department and the Coast Guard?  No, the Rules Committee could still waive a point of order IF requested by the chairmen of both the relevant committee of jurisdiction AND the Appropriations subcommittee.  The House could also exercise its will to override the point of order on the floor if a majority were so inclined.

Doesn’t this hamstring the Rules and Appropriations Committee members?  When it comes to setting the agenda of the House, the Rules Committee members serve as a ministerial arm of the Republican Conference, and this rule would direct them in exercising this responsibility on behalf of the Conference.  The Appropriations Committee members would be no more constrained under this provision than they already are not to enact appropriations above the 302(a) level.   

What happens if the Senate approves funding for an unauthorized program after the deadline for reauthorization?  The differences would be resolved in a conference committee, and conference reports are not subject to Rule XXI(2)(a).    

What rules changes would be required?  This reform could be enacted by a simple rule of the House Republican Conference, in the same manner as we currently ban earmarks.

 

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Federal Lands Subcommittee Legislative Hearing

2016/05/12

Congressman McClintock is the Chairman of the Federal Lands Subcommittee.  The subcommittee held a legislative hearing on May 12, 2016.  Congressman McClintock delivered the following opening statement:


Chairman’s Opening Statement 
Congressman Tom McClintock
House Committee on Natural Resources
Subcommittee on Federal Lands

Legislative Hearing on H.R. 3565, H.R. 3839, H.R. 4233, and H.R. 5132

Today, the Subcommittee on Federal Lands meets to review four Bureau of Land Management (BLM) bills that have been referred to this subcommittee. 

All of these bills should be measured against our three objectives for federal lands management: to restore public access to the public lands, to restore sound management practices to the public lands and to restore the federal government as a good neighbor to the communities directly impacted by the public lands.

H.R. 3565, authored by Congresswoman Lois Capps, would add over 5,800 acres to the California Coastal National Monument, placing additional restrictions on public access, land management and local prerogatives.  I look forward to hearing how this bill meets any of the subcommittee’s objectives.

H.R. 3839, offered by Congresswoman Kristi Noem, permanently transfers jurisdictional authority of 200 acres of federal land outside Sturgis, South Dakota from the BLM to the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand the Black Hills National Cemetery.  This cemetery is the final resting place of many notable American veterans including Medal of Honor recipient Sergeant Charles Windolph.

The existing cemetery is running out of room, and transferring adjacent BLM land to its grounds will provide needed expansion to honor the veterans of this and future generations.   

H.R. 4233, offered by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, lifts the congressional reservation of about 40 rocks and islets off the coast of Orange County, California that had been intended for lighthouses that were never built and are no longer needed.  

The bill does not expand the federal estate; rather, it simply removes the Congressional reservations to expand the options available to the BLM for management of this property.  The bill also preserves the current economic and recreational uses and activities of the area, such as fishing, to ensure that BLM cannot inhibit those activities on any lands incorporated into the National Monument. 

H.R. 5132, offered by Representative Greg Walden, revises the boundary, and reduces the size, of the Whychus-Deschutes Wilderness Study Area (WSA) in order to allow for sensible fire prevention activities to occur in the area. The WSA, which is managed by BLM, is directly adjacent to Crooked River Ranch, an unincorporated community in central Oregon with a population of about 5,500 residents. 

The local government has determined that the WSA lands are in the highest risk category for exposure to devastating wildfire due to overstocked juniper stands. To make matters worse, the community is located on a peninsula at the convergence of the Crooked and Deschutes river canyons and has only one entrance and exit, drastically increasing the risk to public safety from a catastrophic wildfire.

And here’s a song we’ve heard before: despite the high fire risk, BLM is not performing adequate fire prevention activities, particularly mechanical treatments, in the area because it is managed as a WSA. In addition, the location of the WSA hampers firefighting tactics, leaving local firefighters with no maneuvering room to protect life and property in the event of catastrophic wildfire. 

This bill simply revises the boundary of the WSA to provide a protective buffer next to the community, allows it to work with BLM to prevent fires and ensures that local firefighters can protect the community. 

Without doing so, juniper stands and other hazardous fuels will continue to build up in the WSA, putting at risk lives and hundreds of homes. This is just the latest in a litany of occurrences of federal land designations, including WSAs, which forbid proper forestry management practices and unnecessarily increase the likelihood of devastating wildfires across the West. 

I look forward to hearing from the members of Congress who have joined us to testify on their legislation, as well as our other witnesses. I now recognize the ranking member for her statement.

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Federal Lands Subcomittee Hearing - Discussion Draft of the “Locally-elected Officials Cooperating with Agencies in Land Management Act” (LOCAL Management Act)

2016/04/28

Congressman McClintock is the Chairman of the Federal Lands Subcommittee. The subcommittee held a hearing on April 28th to hear testimony on the LOCAL Management Act (Locally-elected Officials Cooperating with Agencies in Land Management Act). Toulumne County Supervisor Sherri Brennan testified at the hearing. Congressman McClintock delivered the following opening statement:

Chairman’s Opening Statement
Subcommittee on Federal Lands
House Natural Resources Committee
April 28th, 2016


    Today the Subcommittee on Federal Lands meets to consider draft legislation to require federal land use agencies to more closely consult and cooperate with local governments that are directly affected by their decisions.

    The three overarching objectives of this subcommittee bear repeating: to restore public access to the public lands; to restore proper management to the public lands and to restore the federal government as a good neighbor to the communities directly affected by the public lands.

    Gifford Pinchot, the Father of the U.S. Forest Service, gave a series of lectures at the Yale School of Forestry, in which he propounded maxims for the “Behavior of Foresters in Public Office.”  

He said, 

•    “A public official is there to serve the public and not run them.

•    “Public support of acts affecting public rights is absolutely required.

•    “It is more trouble to consult the public than to ignore them, but that is what you are hired for.

•    “Find out in advance what the public will stand for.  If it is right and they won’t stand for it, postpone action and educate them.

•    “Get rid of an attitude of personal arrogance or pride of attainment or superior knowledge.

•    “Don’t try any sly, or foxy politics.  A forester is not a politician.”


    The U.S. Forest Service has strayed so far from these founding principles that reading them today in any mountain community in the Sierra Nevada is guaranteed to generate derisive laughter.

    The draft legislation we consider today would begin to restore what was once a close working relationship between local communities and federal land managers.  Pinchot understood something that his recent successors have forgotten: that although these lands are owned by the federal government, the effects of poor management are disproportionately felt by those living on the boundaries of a National Forest or a National Park. 

    The most common complaint I hear from locally elected officials in my district is that they are rarely consulted, rarely respected and often bypassed by federal land managers in the decisions that directly affect their communities and their local economies.  

    The situation was summed up quite well by Butte County Supervisor Bill Connelly a few years ago, protesting the Forest Service’s unilateral decision to place severe restrictions on vehicle access to the Plumas National Forest.  He said “The restriction applies to such activities as: collecting firewood, retrieving game, loading or unloading horses or other livestock, and camping…The National Forests are part of the local fabric.  The roads within the National Forests are used by thousands of residents and visitors for transportation and recreation.  These activities generate revenue for our rural communities, which are critical for their survival.”

       Many of my colleagues can offer similar anecdotes about the contentious and unproductive relationship between the federal government and local communities regarding land management decisions.  

    Road closures; interfering with long-established community events; expelling long-standing grazing operations; harassment of residents; obstructing critically needed community infrastructure; removing tourist amenities; excessive land acquisitions that threaten the tax bases of local communities; incompetent forest management that creates severe fire danger: these are but a sampling of the constant complaints we routinely receive from the public and its locally elected representatives.   
    
    Forest Service law enforcement abuses have become so egregious in recent years that the elected sheriffs of two counties in my district have revoked permission for the Forest Service to enforce state and local laws within their jurisdictions.  

    We have found time and again that when federal land managers tell us they work closely with the public, they are referring not to the locally elected officials (who by definition represent the public, speak for the public and are directly answerable to the public) but rather they refer to narrow, self-appointed, ideologically extreme interest groups purporting to speak for the public.  

    I believe this draft legislation offers us an opportunity to restore the cooperation and comity between federal land managers and local communities that Gifford Pinchot envisioned when he founded the Forest Service.  It would give communities greater say in the decisions that directly affect their economies, their residents and their quality of life, and it would begin restoring the federal government as a trusted partner and good neighbor of our mountain communities.  

    I look forward to hearing from our panel of witnesses for ideas about how we can improve this legislation. 

    I now recognize the ranking member for her opening statement. 

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A Quintessential American Institution

2016/04/23

A Quintessential American Institution
Remarks by Congressman Tom McClintock
Yosemite National Park
April 23, 2016


    What a pleasure it is today to be here at Yosemite – the first park to be set aside for public use and the inspiration for our National Parks – to celebrate the centennial year of the National Parks System.

    The centennial pays tribute to the uniquely American notion that our most beautiful and historic lands should be set aside for the use and enjoyment of the people of the United States. In the words of the Organic Act of 1916, “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same.”  

    Our National Parks are a quintessential American institution.   The kings of England set aside vast tracts of land as their exclusive preserves, which only a select few with their blessing could enjoy.  The National Parks are the very opposite of that.  In America, we have set aside the most beautiful land in the nation entirely of, by and for the people.

    That’s what Abraham Lincoln had in mind when he signed the act first setting aside what would become the cornerstone of our National Park System – Yosemite.   

    He did this – quote -- “upon the express conditions that the premises shall be held for public use, resort, and recreation (and) shall be inalienable for all time.”

    The visionaries who inspired and established the National Park Service wanted people to come to the parks to enjoy themselves, knowing that they would go away with fond memories, happy experiences, resolved to return again and again. 

    “We saw another party of tourists today.” John Muir wrote in his diary one day in Yosemite Valley.  “Somehow most of these travelers seem to care but little for the glorious objects around them, though enough to spend time and money and endure long rides to see the famous Valley.  And when they are fairly within the mighty walls of the temple and hear the psalms of the falls, they will forget themselves and become devout.  Blessed indeed would be every pilgrim in these holy mountains…The valley is full of people, but they do not annoy me.”

    Our national parks should be open to the public for all recreational pursuits —hiking, camping biking, lodging, hunting, fishing, snow-mobiling, horseback riding, sight-seeing, skiing, rafting, skating, off-roading, RVing, – these are the priceless memories our parks are there to create for succeeding generations of Americans.  

    Two years after Muir’s death, the National Park Service was created and Yosemite was entrusted to its care.  I want to recognize the National Park Rangers who have ever since welcomed and encouraged succeeding generations of Americans who come to their public lands.   

    This centennial year is particularly important to the communities that surround our parks, whose economies depend upon the tourism they generate and rely on the federal government to be a good neighbor in preserving, maintaining and managing these lands.   

    All these communities and the local businesses that support them are vital elements of the never-ending campaign to promote the park, and they are the most passionate advocates for preserving the Yosemite experience. 

    A century from now, another assemblage will gather here to celebrate the National Park Service’s bi-centennial.  Much in the world will have changed by then, but the tumbling rivers, soaring trees and granite walls will look as they do today.  A new generation that has reveled and recreated in its beauty will gather here then to renew the promise of “public use, resort and recreation…inalienable…for all time.” 

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Contact Information

434 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-2511
Fax 202-225-5444
mcclintock.house.gov

Committee Assignments

Budget

Natural Resources

Congressman Tom McClintock was elected in November 2008 to represent the 4th Congressional District in the United States Congress.

During 22 years in the California State Legislature, and as a candidate for governor in California’s historic recall election, Tom McClintock has become one of the most recognizable political leaders in California.

First elected to the California Assembly at the age of 26, McClintock quickly distinguished himself as an expert in parliamentary procedure and fiscal policy. He served in the Assembly from 1982 to 1992 and again from 1996 to 2000. During these years, he authored California’s current lethal injection death penalty law, spearheaded the campaign to rebate $1.1 billion in tax over-collections to the people of California, and became the driving force in the legislature to abolish the car tax. He has proposed hundreds of specific reforms to streamline state government and reduce state spending.

In 2000, McClintock was elected to the California State Senate, where he developed innovative budget solutions such as the Bureaucracy Reduction and Closure Commission and performance-based budgeting, and advocated for restoring California’s public works.

From 1992-1994, McClintock served as Director of the Center for the California Taxpayer, a project of the National Tax Limitation Foundation. In 1995, he was named Director of Economic and Regulatory Affairs for the Claremont Institute’s Golden State Center for Policy Studies, a position he held until his return to the Assembly in 1996. In that capacity, he wrote and lectured extensively on state fiscal policy, privatization, bureaucratic reform and governmental streamlining.

McClintock’s commentaries on California public policy have appeared in every major newspaper in California and he is a frequent guest on radio and television broadcasts across the nation. Numerous taxpayer associations have honored him for his leadership on state budget issues.

McClintock has twice received the Republican nomination for the office of State Controller, narrowly missing election in 2002 by the closest margin in California history – 23/100ths of one percent of the votes cast.

McClintock is the Chairman of the Water and Power Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee, and is a member of the Budget Committee and the Natural Resources Committee.   He is also a member of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands.

Tom McClintock and his wife, Lori, have two children, Justin and Shannah.


Serving With

Doug LaMalfa

CALIFORNIA's 1st DISTRICT

Paul Cook

CALIFORNIA's 8th DISTRICT

Jeff Denham

CALIFORNIA's 10th DISTRICT

David Valadao

CALIFORNIA's 21st DISTRICT

Devin Nunes

CALIFORNIA's 22nd DISTRICT

Kevin McCarthy

CALIFORNIA's 23rd DISTRICT

Steve Knight

CALIFORNIA's 25th DISTRICT

Ed Royce

CALIFORNIA's 39th DISTRICT

Ken Calvert

CALIFORNIA's 42nd DISTRICT

Mimi Walters

CALIFORNIA's 45th DISTRICT

Dana Rohrabacher

CALIFORNIA's 48th DISTRICT

Darrell Issa

CALIFORNIA's 49th DISTRICT

Duncan Hunter

CALIFORNIA's 50th DISTRICT

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