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Updated: Democratic, Republican Budget Proposals Take Decidedly Different Tacks On National Parks


Editor's note: This corrects details on continuing resolution in penultimate graph to show measure does not restore sequestration cuts.

Federal budget proposals released this week by the Republicans and Democrats take decidedly different tacks when it comes to national parks, with the GOP plan continuing cuts to the National Park Service while the Democratic version would stablize funding, according to onlookers.

The GOP proposal put forth by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is very similar to the one he offered a year ago. Under that proposal, the Park Service would have to close "hundreds of national parks ... for parts of the year" beginning in 2014, the Office of Management Budget said at the time.

Scott Slesinger, legislative director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the congressman's new proposal should be rejected because "it solidifies drastic sequestration cuts to initiatives that protect our air, water, food, wildlife, national parks, and transportation infrastructure. Cutting these services that every American relies on won’t dent the deficit, but it will harm our economy and our future."

Under the Democratic proposal offered by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, cuts ordered by the budget sequestration would be restored through a mix of spending cuts and new revenues. It would not immediately balance the budget, though, something Rep. Ryan said his proposal would do in a decade.

At the National Parks Conservation Association, Craig Obey, senior vice president for government affairs, called the Democratic budget proposal a "refreshing budget blueprint that values investments in our national treasures, not reflexive, mindless cuts."

Sen. Murray, he added, "recognizes that our communities, businesses, and futures all benefit from protecting our heritage, keeping our national parks and their visitor facilities open, and confronting the challenges posed by climate change. As Congress and the Obama administration debate the chasm that separates the approaches in the Murray and Ryan budgets, we hope the values and aspirations Senator Murray’s proposal promotes will find their way into the actual funding Congress provides for our national treasures and our environment."

Parks won't likely get financial relief any time soon, as continuing resolutions in both the House and Senate continue the sequestration.

Of course, with the House and Senate needing to reconcile their differences in both the budget proposals as well as the continuing resolutions, the likelihood of those fiscal landscapes changing is great.


Jim, I agree completely. That of course is what "normal order" is all about...

Mike G -

You're absolutely correct that a key breakdown the past two years has been the Senate's failure to act at all and the White House's failure to be on time with proposals. If the Dems in the Senate would get to work and pass their own version of the budget, then my main point would come into play - the need for the two chambers to work together to jointly craft a bill that will actually pass both the House and Senate, and be signed by the President.

Before that can happen, both parties will have to give up some ground on positions they've taken in their initial budget proposals, including some that I described as "rhetoric" because their chances of actually being enacted are slim to none.

Or the outright lies used in attempts to defeat the ACA. (Death panels, anyone?)

But Jim is right. This is not the place to start even more shouting and name calling. That belongs on the grade school playground -- or halls of Congress. For those of us here, we are stuck with what the ideologues on both sides in Washington dump on us. We've already made up our minds which ideology we are going to fall for, and nothing anyone says is going to change that. What's important here is to try to figure out now that the Washington manure spreader has passed by, what are we going to do to try to live through it all? And even more important, how will we help our parks get through it?

We have a choice. Act like adults or act like my four-year old grand daughter.

(Without doubt the cutest and smartest four-year old in all of Utah. Anyone want to argue that point . . . . . ?)

Actually Jim, the House has passed a budget each of the past three years. The Senate, under Harry Reid, has failed to pass a budget each of the past four years and has not taken up the House budget in the process called "normal order" either. Why? Because there is no concensus among Democrats in the Senate regarding budget issues. The Republicans in the Senate being in the minority do not set the priorities.

This year, we do have budget proposals from each chamber. Perhaps they can get back to the business of normal order in constructing a budget for the nation. I wouldn't get my hopes up however.

The President is derelict in the budget process as well. His past two budget proposals, delivered past the mandatory deliver date, failed to garner either a Republican or a Democrat vote in support. His submittal for this coming year, still is not available to Congress. The first time in 92 years that the President has failed to deliver his budget proposal to Congress prior to either chamber finalizing their own proposal. The delivery of the Presidental budget proposal is mandated by law. It has been ignored by the President each of the past three years. It is good to be King.

A little more on your "just rhetoric comment" by Democrats:

Agree with much, Jim. Only possible disagreement is that only one party (or the segment in power) is committed to fundamentally changing the US by promoting divisions. Classic downward spiral. More than just rhetoric on Obamacare if you consider the outright lies and deception used to pass it. Okay, I basically disagree with your post but do appreciate the dialogue:). If only our elected would be required to live with what they force on us. What a concept.

As is often the case with any story involving politics, we're flirting with sliding into name-calling instead of useful discussion.

Both sides (House Republicans and Senate Democrats) have now waved their respective party flags and put forth budget proposals that are unlikely to pass both chambers. This forum on parks isn't the place to debate the pros and cons of health care, but the reality is with Democrats in control of the Senate and White House, any House bill that includes repeal of "Obamacare" is simply political rhetoric. The same applies to Senate calls for increased spending for various programs.

Not too many years ago, both sides understood that once their respective positions had been properly covered by the media for the sake of future sound bites for the next election campaign, it was time to move on and accomplish the real work—finding a solution that involves some give and take on both ends.

It remains to be seen whether our current crop of elected officials is capable of governing vs. politicking. The inability to pass a budget at all in recent years and rely instead on a series of continuing resolutions represents a massive failure for both chambers to do their jobs.

Compassion as defined by who, Rick B? OK, the Candy Man reins with elections is what I'm hearing. No spending problem.

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