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Labrador renews push to require congressional approval for national monument designations

U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador has reintroduced a bill that would require congressional approval any time a president wanted to carve out new national monuments across the country, the Idaho Statesman reports today; click below for a full report from the Statesman and the Associated Press. Presidents have sole authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act to protect land under national monument status, and presidents from both parties have used the law to designate monument status on places such as the Grand Canyon and Idaho's own Craters of the Moon. But Labrador argues Congress should have greater oversight on such decisions.


Labrador renews push to revamp monument process


BOISE, Idaho (AP) — U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador has reintroduced a bill that would require congressional approval any time a president wanted to carve out new national monuments across the country.

Labrador testified on the bill Tuesday during a hearing hosted by a House Natural Resources subcommittee that focused on several pieces of proposed legislation on limits of presidential discretion.

Presidents have the sole authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act to protect land under national monument status. Presidents from both parties have used the law to designate monument status to places such as the Grand Canyon and Idaho's own Craters of the Moon.

But the Republican argues Congress should have greater oversight on such decisions no matter the president's political party, according to an Idaho Statesman story published Wednesday (http://bit.ly/15fJ1Og).

“Bad policy is bad policy whether enacted by a Republican or a Democrat,” he told the subcommittee Tuesday.

The hearing comes amid recent reporting that top Bush administration officials researched two monument proposals in Idaho. The newspaper, citing documents obtained in a public records request, reported that former Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne in 2008 had drafted proclamations to create national monuments in the Boulder-White Cloud Mountains in central Idaho and the Island Park Caldera around Mesa Falls southwest of Yellowstone National Park.

Kempthorne ultimately backed off in 2008 when he realized there wasn't time for the kind of public involvement that Labrador and others talked about Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Idaho supporters of legislation championed by U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, to protect the Boulder-White Cloud Mountains as wilderness are now turning to the Obama administration to protect the area as a national monument.

During Tuesday's hearing, Labrador reinforced his opposition to any new public land in Idaho being locked or given special protection without consent from Congress.

“I oppose the imposition of any federal lockup of Idaho federal land without congressional oversight. I oppose Republicans on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, I oppose Republicans on the Patriot Act, and I would oppose a Republican's efforts to lock up land in Idaho under the Antiquities Act.”

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Information from: Idaho Statesman, http://www.idahostatesman.com


Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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