BOZEMAN – Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) has advocated very strongly for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), and with President Trump’s signature, it has been reauthorized.
Sen. Daines and US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) discussed the victory over the weekend, but the fight for funding isn’t over just yet.
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“As I said when I passed it through the Senate, it did take public lands to bring a divided government together,” Sen. Daines said of the measure that permanently secured funding for the LWCF, which has poured over $500 million into Montana for outdoor recreation.
But despite the victory, there is a twist. In President Trump’s proposed budget for the upcoming year, he is calling for cuts to the US Department of the Interior — which in turn would cut the LWCF funding by 98%.
“I have always said since I have been back in Congress — whether it was under President Obama or President Trump — the presidents always propose a budget and then Congress decides what they are going to do on the appropriations side,” Sen. Daines stated.
Sen. Murkowski believes the strong bi-partisan support will push the funding through for the LWCF.
“Right now for Interior — coming out of the administration — are [am] 11% percent reduction from the year prior,” Sen. Murkowski said. “That is gonna be challenging for us, but again, how we can work to support the clear intention of the Congress is what I think you will see.”
And on another note, Sen. Daines wanted to make it clear there are other problems — including dealing with the close to $12 billion overall national park backlog — which he says will have to be dealt with from all parties.
“Not arguing about who gets credit, not arguing about who gots the biggest ego here — and they are setting that aside. And we have a solution going forward,” Sen. Daines said. “So, I am cautiously optimistic we will get that through sometime this next Congress we are gonna keep fighting for that too.”
In an effort to do just that, Sen, Daines is asking to use offshore energy revenues for funding.
-Mederios Babb reporting for MTN News