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.