With the US House of Representatives back in session this week after the standoff between the US Bureau of Land Management on one side and the Bundy family and protestors on the other, the House Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing regarding the BLM.
What did the hearing concern? Investigating the use of force by US government agents who raided the Bundy ranch, destroyed ranch property, and seized and killed ranch cattle? Reviewing the decades-long policy of arming more and more US government employees? Devising a plan to divest the US government of ownership of vast amounts of land, especially in western states?
No, no, and no!
The committee instead considered legislation — the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake Security Enhancement Act (HR 4458) — that Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said in his testimony before the committee would make permanent the transfer of over one million acres of BLM land to the Department of Defense!
Like the Bundy ranch land, the land subject to permanent transfer in McCarthy’s legislation is home to the desert tortoise. This creature, that the BLM website says the bureau is “taking actions to conserve and recover,” gained recognition in the Bundy ranch standoff.
McCarthy, the House majority whip, suggests in his testimony the tortoises will be safe in the expanded military installation. Maybe that will be the case, though the Department of Defense does not have the best record on protecting the environment.
The important question many people want answered is this: When will congressional committees hold hearings to investigate, and when will Congress pass legislation to remedy, the US government problems evidenced in the Bundy ranch raid?