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The Western movement to transfer federal lands scores an early victory in the new Congress.
DC DISPATCH Jan. 4, 2017
On the first day of its new session, the U.S. House passed a new rule designed to make it easier to transfer federal lands to states, local communities or Indian tribes by assuming that these transfers would not cost the federal government anything.
The change was approved Tuesday 233 to 190 as part of a broader collection of rules which will govern how the House will operate during the 115th Congress ranging from budget guidelines to ethics standards. The lands transfer provision didn’t figure in the debate. Previously, when Congress wanted to transfer public lands managed by the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management or other federal agency, the Congressional Budget Office, Congress’ research arm, calculated the cost to the U.S. Treasury by computing what revenues the lands provide over 10 years, such as grazing fees or oil and gas royalties. Under House rules, before a bill approving a transfer could be adopted, budget cuts would have to be made in other federal programs equal to the value of that land. The rules change eliminates that budgetary barrier to land transfer bills...
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