Last week, President Obama moved to protect a large swathe of California’s coast near Point Arena as a new national monument. House Republicans are in an uproar — what else — and have scheduled a vote next week to bring down a 108-year-old law that has been used by presidents of both parties to ensure that the nation’s natural wonders are preserved by the federal government.
Euphemistically titled the “Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act,” H.R. 1459’s actual goal is to strip the president of his power to establish new national monuments by instituting caps and requiring congressional review of new monuments. It also orders that future expansions of the National Park Service by presidential order cannot include private property without consent, limits the size of parks or the duration of park status (conveniently until after 2016), and requires the submission of a feasibility study to Congress that includes estimates of the cost of maintenance in perpetuity.
In plain English: In other words, the Republican Party wants to obstruct the executive branch’s ability to expand the national park system and place themselves as the arbiter of any expansion in the remainder of Obama’s presidency.