Grijalva Presses Bishop to Call Interior Secretary Zinke for Hearing on Department’s Future in Light of Budget Cuts, Other Needs

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today sent a letter to Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) urging him to call a hearing for Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to testify on the future of the Interior Department, in light of the Trump administration’s proposed 12 percent budget cut, and on other issues Zinke has yet to address. “Given the lack of detail provided in the President’s proposal,” Grijalva writes, “it is critical that Secretary Zinke appear before the Committee to explain how the Department plans to fulfill its responsibilities to manage our National Parks and other federal lands, oceans, endangered wildlife, cultural resources, and honor the federal government’s trust responsibilities to Native American Tribes using $1.5 billion less in funding.”

Democrats have had almost no direct contact with Zinke or other Trump administration policymakers on issues in the Committee’s jurisdiction. Indeed, Grijalva writes, “As Ranking Member of this Committee, I began seeking a meeting with Secretary Zinke on January 5th; I have received no response to my weekly requests.”

In addition to Grijalva’s ignored meeting requests, the letter notes five instances in which lawmakers have written to Trump, Zinke, or Zinke’s predecessor – then-acting Interior Secretary Jack Haugrud – seeking information on issues in the Committee’s jurisdiction, each of which was ignored. Those requests included requests for information on fisheries management, the Cadiz water mining project in California, an Interior Department citation of inaccurate job loss figures, an apparently illegal postponement of enforcement of a rule on the value of federally and tribally owned coal, and the scope of presidential power under the Antiquities Act.

“A period of adjustment at the dawn of a new Administration is to be expected,” Grijalva writes. “Months of deliberate silence on each and every significant issue facing the Department is not. A sustained refusal to even acknowledge inquiries from the Congress is not.”

The full letter is available at http://bit.ly/2ndj3Kc.

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