Week of 11.18.2017

Western Caucus Member Meeting Features Conversation with Interior Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt  

On Tuesday, November 14, 2017, over twenty Members of the Western Caucus attended the monthly Members Meeting which featured remarks by U.S. Department of Interior Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt giving opening remarks followed by conversation between he and the Members. 

Members had an engaging dialogue with the Deputy Secretary, with topics ranging from sage grouse management plans, venting & flaring, the Endangered Species Act and much more. 

Attendees included Congressman Jason Smith, Chairman Rep. Paul Gosar, Rep. Dan Newhouse, Congressman Mark Amodei, Congressman Greg Gianforte, Congressman Steve Pearce, Congresswoman Aumua Amata, Rep. David Schweikert, Greg Walden, Congressman Don Young, Congressman Randy Weber, Congressman Tom Emmer, Rep. Rob Bishop, Congressman Chris Stewart, Rep. Brian Babin, and Congressman Alex Mooney.

Senate Confirms New, Female Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner

On Friday, November 17, the United States Senate confirmed Brenda Burman as the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) Commissioner. She is the first woman to ever lead the Bureau, but was subjected to 142 days of delay before eventually being confirmed.

Brenda has accumulated impressive credentials and serious expertise prior to assuming the helm at BOR. From 2006 to 2008, she served as BOR’s Deputy Commissioner for External and Intergovernmental Affairs and also as the Deputy Assistant Secretary. She thereafter worked as the Director of Water Policy at the Salt River Project in Arizona. She has also worked at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, The Nature Conservancy, and the office of U.S. Senator Jon Kyl. She holds a law degree from the University of Arizona.

BOR has nearly 5,000 employees and works to maintain around 500 dams, 330 reservoirs and 53 hydroelectric plants across 17 Western states.

“I am deeply honored for the opportunity to lead this organization,” said Brenda Burman. “The employees of Reclamation are dedicated to working through the most difficult water issues and managing water in the West. I look forward to working with Secretary Zinke, the Administration, and our many partners, contractors and customers to solve our most pressing water issues.”

"Finally! After more than 142 days, I'm excited to welcome Brenda Burman to lead the Bureau of Reclamation," said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. "Brenda is a veteran of the Bureau and her extensive experience on water projects across the country will be an incredible asset for the Department. After senseless and unprecedented hold-ups in the Senate, we can finally move forward with key water projects across the country."

“Brenda Burman is eminently qualified to lead the Bureau of Reclamation, and her past work with the Salt River Project and Interior, as well as her legal background, has equipped her well to manage and streamline the bureaucracy. She will do an equally fantastic job maintaining our hydroelectric, dam and reservoir infrastructure, as well as in identifying opportunities for energy and water development throughout the West. While it’s obviously unfortunate that her confirmation was held up so long and without cause by Democrats in the Senate, we know she will hit the ground running in her new role,” said Congressman Paul Gosar.

Read the full Department of Interior Press Release HERE

House Passes National Defense Authorization Act Containing Largest Pay Raise for Troops in Eight Years 

On Tuesday, November 17, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2810, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018.

The NDAA authorizes appropriations for Department of Defense activities including equipment and weaponry procurement, research and testing, overseas operations, and counter-drug activities.

The NDAA for FY ‘18 passed by the House on Tuesday is especially notable for authorizing the largest pay-raise for our troops in eight years.

To read the bill as passed, click HERE. Click HERE to read the full press release by the House Armed Services Committee. 

Talk Heats Up of Moving BLM HQ out West, possibly Salt Lake or Denver

More and more, top officials at Interior and in the House of Representatives are reasoning that the benefits of uprooting the Bureau of Land Management headquarters and moving it westward may outweigh any potential drawbacks.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke recently weighed in, telling the Salt Lake Tribune: “We’re certainly looking at where would be the right place,” and noting that “the preponderance of activity is in the West,” for BLM’s work.

The idea has been gaining currency steadily over time as distrust for bureaucracies far-removed from their physical jurisdiction has grown. Senator Cory Gardner and CWC Member Scott Tipton introduced legislation in May that would authorize BLM headquarters to relocate in the West.

To read more background information and other Congressional supporters of the idea, read the full story by the Free Range Report HERE


Congressman Jody Hice (GA-10) talks about his efforts to work with Western Caucus to fulfill its priorities of multiple-use land policies, American energy dominance and the responsible use of our country’s bounty of natural resources. He also discusses his efforts with the entire Republican Conference to negotiate the tax reform bill, H.R. 1, which passed the floor of the House this week.  Click HERE or on the picture below to watch the address.


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