WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, spoke on the Senate Floor to discuss the appropriations process and his efforts to restrict the use of funds for enforcement of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s decision to list the lesser prairie chicken (LPC) as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.
Highlights from Sen. Moran’s remarks:
“Congress holds the power of the purse string. There are many of us, Republicans and Democrats, who would like to direct the executive branch in how money is spent. The appropriations bill ultimately will determine how much money is spent, but in addition to that we have the ability to direct whether that spending can occur, shouldn’t occur or how it should occur.
“So now the opportunity to instruct a federal agency arises as we appropriate the money for them to operate. There [are] five states in the middle of the country – New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma – that have felt the consequences of a decision made by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species. The issue that is so troublesome to me is those five states had come together to solve this problem on their own without the heavy hand of the federal government. And conservation practices were being put in place. The U.S. Department of Agriculture was providing technical and financial assistance to conservation efforts to landowners...And yet, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in my view, only paid lip service to those conservation efforts…and they listed the lesser prairie chicken as threatened.
“And now the rains have returned, and in fact over the last two years, just as you would predict, as common sense would tell us, if there’s more rain, there’s more habitat, there [are] more birds. And the most recent census of the lesser prairie chicken indicates that in the last two years the population of that bird…has increased by 50 percent…one might think it would…be useful to take a second look at the listing… Despite our request to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, they dismissed that with little thought…as the species has returned that maybe no longer it should be listed.
“So the opportunity…to rein in decisions…we believe are poorly made, lack common sense, are unreasonable occurs in this appropriations process. And my guess is that all of my colleagues have certain issues in which they want to direct a federal agency about how to behave…An appropriations bill is a legislative effort, and it would be wrong for us not to take the opportunity to direct agencies on behalf of the American people, on behalf of the constituents in my case of Kansas who feel very strongly about this issue and have suffered the consequences of the listing of the lesser prairie chicken.
“We ought to work together to find opportunities to solve problems that our constituents and Americans face, and the legislative process is a way that we can do that. It's not inappropriate. In fact, it's the constitutional response to an abuse of power in an executive branch, whether it's a Republican executive branch or a Democrat executive branch, we ought to work together as Members of Congress and utilizing our constitutional authority to make appropriate decisions for the American people.”
Moran discusses appropriations process and blocking funds for lesser prairie chicken listing