"A Congressional Journey to the Center of the Earth"
The Western Caucus policy tour of Arizona was a rocking success
Last weekend, the Senate and Congressional Western Caucuses participated in a trip - coordinated by the Western Caucus Foundation - in which Members of Congress and Congressional staff scaled Arizona to participate in policy roundtables, briefings with state and local officials and site tours in order to enhance their on-the-ground familiarity with some of the issues they and the Western Caucus work on every day at the level of federal policy.
"To me, this is what the Western Caucus is all about," said Chairman Paul Gosar. "It's so important that we get people out on the ground to see, walk, touch and experience these issues firsthand, so that when we go back to Washington to work on them we have both sides of the coin covered. That's what we all got out of this adventure, and I was proud to show Members and staff from all across the country the best of what Arizona has to offer."
The trip kicked off at Arizona State University with a policy roundtable featuring panels on the topics of:
- America's Mineral Security
- Reliable Water, Healthy Forests and Fire Prevention
- Western Power
- Tribal Priorities
- Arizona Leaders, Arizona Issues
Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman (pictured below) served as the keynote speaker for the event. Burman is the first female Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation within the U.S. Department of the Interior, and is a water and reclamation expert whose accumulated knowledge from a career spanning private and public service provided panelists and attendees with an exciting and comprehensive view of the Western water and power situation.
Members of Congress in attendance included Reps. Andy Biggs, Rob Bishop, Paul Gosar, Doug LaMalfa, Dan Newhouse and Bruce Westerman.
Dinner that night at the Arizona State's University Club in Phoenix featured keynote remarks by House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop as well as Arizona Attorney General, Mark Brnovich (pictured below). Attorney General Brnovich gave a rousing speech underscoring the importance of federalism, with especial focus on the concept of our branches and levels of government exercising those powers which they are constitutionally allotted - no more, and no less.
The following day, Members of Congress and staff departed Phoenix by bus to tour the Resolution Copper mine in Superior, Arizona. The mine is the largest single investment in Arizona's history and delves 7,000 feet into the earth to mine copper in the area's rich deposit. The project is years in the making and was originally facilitated by a land exchanged pushed in Congress by Chairman Gosar and Senator McCain. Reps. Newhouse, Westerman and Gosar are pictured below above-ground at the site.
The final day of the trip featured a walking tour of the Grand Canyon and a lunch briefing and discussion which included City of Tusayan and Grand Canyon National Park officials.
Views of the Canyon were somewhat obstructed upon arrival, including in the shot above of Reps. Gosar and Westerman. House staff, pictured below, were disappointed but clearly amused when the fog continued to roll in and force the planned plane tour of the Canyon to be cancelled.
A fantastic and informative discussion on issues related to Grand Canyon water issues, park development and growth, and regulations affecting outfitter and tour companies capped off the visit and the trip.
Western Caucus Makes Final Push for Omnibus Priorities WOTUS, Ozone rule, gray wolves, forestry and more are in play
The Congressional Western Caucus has been hard at work to ensure that its priorities are considered and, to the maximum extent, incorporated into the ongoing omnibus appropriations bill discussions.
Caucus Members are paying attention to see whether leadership and appropriators include provisions on subjects ranging from Endangered Species Act listings to Obama-era water and energy regulations.
In the interest of transparency and public edification, the full list and explanation of priorities the Congressional Western Caucus has presented to appropriators is a public document, viewable HERE. Enjoy!
|| ZINKE IN THE HOUSE || Secretary of the Interior discusses budget priorities in front of Natural Resources panel
On Thursday, a Full Committee oversight hearing by the House Committee on Natural Resources examined the Department of the Interior's Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Proposal and included questions by Members of the Committee posed to Secretary of the Interior (and former Committee and Caucus member) Ryan Zinke. His budget deputies were also present for statements and questions.
The oversight hearing was one of several taking place on Capitol Hill this week in which Cabinet officials appeared before the committees of jurisdiction to answer questions about agency activity and proposed 2019 budget allocations. These hearings serve as opportunities for the Administration to make the case publicly before Congress that the President's proposal should be enacted as Congress prepares to consider funding allocations for the 2019 fiscal year.
Topics broached were many and wide-ranging. Of particular interest was the Department's developing plans for relocating major centers of Interior operations out West, closer to the lands and jurisdictions they actually oversee - a plan that has been mostly hailed by members of the Western Caucus.
Get the scoop on the hearing including full video feed at the Natural Resources Committee website HERE. Picture above courtesy the House Committee on Natural Resources.
Appropriators, House Leadership Brief Staff on Omnibus at Foundation Breakfast Counties group, Dept. of Interior and innovative nuclear company also in attendance
On Friday, Senate and Congressional Western Caucus staff met for the monthly bicameral Foundation Staff Policy Breakfast.
The standing-room only crowd heard from leadership and appropriations staff from the House and Senate chambers, who relayed updates on the omnibus negotiations process while reassuring staff they were fighting for inclusion of provisions important to Western Caucus members.
The Department of the Interior's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, Austin Ewell (pictured above), also gave remarks and answered questions. He was joined by Micah Chambers, left, representing Interior's Office of Congressional Affairs.
This week, Rep. Kevin Cramer (ND-At Large),discusses issues important both to North Dakota and the Western Caucus, including burdensome Obama-era oil and gas regulations as well as his plan for a national inventory of federal lands.
Click HERE or on the picture below to watch this week's address.