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for people who care about the West

Latest: GOP House rules loosen land transfer regs

The rule would let the feds transfer land without accounting for costs.


Even as a majority of states and counties explicitly reject the idea of transferring federal land to states, the transfer drumbeat is getting louder, championed in Congress by Republican lawmakers like Alaska’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Utah’s Rep. Rob Bishop. Since 2014, a number of Western counties have joined the American Lands Council, which lobbies to “return” lands to states (“The ultra-right ‘remedy’ for public lands,” HCN, 10/24/14).

Congress kicked off 2017 with the House GOP passing a package of rules that includes one making it easier to transfer federal lands to states
, by removing the requirement that other federal programs must be cut by an amount equal to the transferred land’s value. Because this action involves a House rule, the Senate does not get a vote. This doesn’t mean proposed land transfers are sure to pass, however: They’d need 60 votes to avoid a filibuster, and Senate Republicans outnumber Democrats 52 to 48.