Grijalva: LWCF Expired Because Republicans Let it Expire, Not Because it’s Controversial – And They Shouldn’t Hold it Hostage Now

Washington, D.C. – Ahead of Tuesday’s expected Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee markup of a bill permanently reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which expired Sept. 30, Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said today that Republican leaders are responsible for the program’s expiration and shouldn’t hold the program hostage in the lame duck session between the Nov. 6 elections and the end of the 115th Congress.

The House Natural Resources Committee on Sept. 13 passed a bill permanently reauthorizing the program, which uses royalties from offshore oil and gas drilling in federal waters to fund conservation and public recreation projects around the country. The House bill, which represented a compromise between Grijalva and Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah), did not include a full funding guarantee for the program, which is authorized to collect $900 million each year but generally receives less than half that annually from appropriators in Congress.

The Senate bill expected to receive a vote on Tuesday, authored by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), guarantees full annual funding for the program. Grijalva introduced a full funding bill just before the Sept. 13 markup that includes the same guarantee, although that bill has not yet received a vote on the House side. Grijalva continues to support full funding for LWCF and would back a reauthorization deal that includes it.

House Natural Resources Committee Democratic staff tweeted out a new LWCF success story from around the country every hour from Sept. 17 to the program’s expiration. Highlights of that campaign and a rundown of where LWCF stands now are available at http://bit.ly/2OrbRbx.

“LWCF expired because Republican leaders let it expire, not because it’s controversial,” Grijalva said today. “The worst outcome would be for Republican leadership to hold LWCF hostage as a way to advance their unrelated, controversial priorities. Now is not the time to tie LWCF’s fate to bills that can’t pass Congress on their own steam. Let’s pass LWCF as soon as we get back in session and handle other issues as they arise.”

Chairman Bishop has already declared full funding for LWCF a deal-breaker in any negotiations on a “package,” leaving it unclear how he will compromise with full funding supporters like Sen. Cantwell and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who chairs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

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