Senators Gang Up on Zinke Over Trump Budget

Senators, from both Democratic and Republican party are seen expressing their discontent towards President Trump’s budget request that cuts funding for the Interior Department by eleven percent.

The Washington Post states, “Democrats on the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources took issue with the $400 million that the national parks would lose in fiscal 2018, which they said would trigger staff reductions at 90 percent of them. They also questioned the $370 million in cuts the Bureau of Indian Affairs would face, including for education and assistance programs, and $163 million in cuts to the U.S. Geological Survey.”

“I find the budget so focused on the oil and natural gas aspect of revenue that I think that you are neglecting the fact that the outdoor economy generates $887 billion a year,” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the ranking member, said.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke that the budget is “better than what we have seen in the last few years,” but that it’s still not going anywhere on Capitol hill. “I don’t expect many of [the cuts] to become a reality, especially those that target popular programs,” said, Murkowski, the chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

“I want to make sure that we are putting pedal to the metal as it relates to the outdoor economy”

ZInke argued that the budget is indeed a great starting point, and that while it cuts funding for other agencies and interior efforts like land acquisition, it the $11.7 billion budget definitely focuses a lot on maintenance.

“This is what a balanced budget looks like,” he said. “There’s tough decisions throughout, but if we want to balance the budget, this is the starting point for what that looks like,” said Zinke.