Lummis Refuses to Accept Deeply Flawed Continuing Resolution
The short-term budget breaks the budget, continues to fund Obamacare, and exacerbates the raid on Wyoming’s AML funds
Sep 13, 2012 -
WASHINGTON – The FY2013 Continuing Resolution (CR), a six month extension of bulked-up government spending was passed Thursday by the House. Donning a $1.047 trillion price tag plus additional spending on disaster aid, the spending bill also extends full funding to Libya and Egypt and fails to defund Obamacare. Closer to home, the CR includes unrelated permanent changes to the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act that isolates Wyoming as the only state to suffer a reduction in Abandoned Mine Land (AML) funds. Language included at the last minute in a transportation bill passed earlier this summer (http://lummis.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=301776) stripped Wyoming and 20 other states of funds from the AML trust fund to pay for unrelated activities. Rather than deliberate on the future of the AML program in an open and honest forum, the authors of the CR continued to operate in secret and chose to accept language offered by the Obama Administration to restore funding to every other state while intentionally leaving Wyoming out.
“This is not the type of government our citizens deserve,” Rep. Lummis said. “It’s unconscionable that we continue to break the bank, fund Obamacare, do not even debate the Libya and Egypt funding issue and rob Wyoming of its rightfully owed AML money just to create another Washington slush fund. The bill’s author would not speak to either Governor Mead or me about the AML issue. Our phone calls were not returned, even though Wyoming was the only state that was robbed in the bill. I refuse to support secretive, good-old boy government dealings, no matter which party is the source.”
· Established by the 1977 Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act, the Abandoned Mine Land program (AML) is funded by a tax on every ton of coal produced to help clean up coal mines that were abandoned before reclamation laws existed.
· Similar to oil and gas royalties, the AML law provides that half the tax be returned to the states, and the other half given to the federal government to clean up abandoned mines in states with the largest reclamation needs.
· The half set aside for Wyoming and other states and tribes was never paid until a 2006 law forced the federal government to meet its commitments, and the federal government has been fulfilling its backlog of payments to Wyoming since.
· In late June Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), who was part of the careful negotiations that established the AML program in 2006, was instrumental in including a provision as part of the transportation bill that steals all but a fraction of Wyoming and 20 other state’s AML funds.
· Recognizing that late-night provision inserted in the transportation bill had unintended consequences, House Republicans attempted another ill-advised fix. This one, inserted into the FY13 Continuing Resolution (CR) without consultation with the Wyoming delegation or Governor, attempts to clarify that the only state to lose money is Wyoming.