When President Obama told Congress he was going to use his “phone and pen” to push policy without lawmakers’ permission, seal and seabird conservation probably didn’t top his agenda.
Nevertheless, Obama on Tuesday unilaterally expanded a national monument in Northern California, adding new protections for thousands of acres of Pacific coastline. The newly protected land, which is about 100 miles up the coast from San Francisco, is part of the Point Arena public lands — a swath of coastline that provides habitat for a string of threatened creatures, including an endangered beaver species and the California red-legged frog.
It’s also a marine-mammal bonanza, according to the White House, which billed it as home to “harbor seals, Steller sea lions, and an occasional elephant seal.”
But though seal habitat is hardly a hot topic in the endless Beltway battles, Obama’s monument designation nevertheless found its way into the ongoing power struggle between the president and congressional Republicans.
To expand the monument, Obama used the Antiquities Act, a century-old statute that allows the president to create national monuments by use of executive action. Obama has now used that authority to make 10 such designations. Without it, creating monuments would require an act of Congress.
Doc Hastings, the Washington Republican atop the House Natural Resources Committee, ripped the president for going it alone. The House passed legislation to expand the California monument in July, and Hastings said Obama should have waited for — or demanded that — the Senate take action on its own version of the bill.
“Instead of using imperial powers, the president should pick up the phone and call upon Senate Democrats to take action,” Hastings said in a statement. “There is no inherent danger to this area of compelling reason for the president to take unilateral action now. The Senate simply needs to do their job and pass the bill.”
More broadly, however, congressional impasse has kept conservation designations at a standstill. The 112th Congress was the first in more than four decades not to pass legislation designating a single new acre of wilderness.
Democrats and environmental groups have traditionally pushed such designations. Republicans have been generally wary of them, as they’ve been hesitant to put restrictions on energy development and frequently demanded such designation have near-unanimous local support.
That gridlock, however, may be cracking, if only slightly: The House last week voted to grant wilderness protection for several thousand acres of Michigan shoreline. The Senate had already approved the measure, and — with a soon-to-be-issued signature from Obama — it will mark the 113th Congress’s first successful land-conservation designation.
What We're Following See More »
Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”
"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.
"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."
"Clinton and Bernie Sanders "are now devoting additional money to television advertising. A day after Sanders announced a new ad buy of less than $2 million in the state, Clinton announced her own television campaign. Ads featuring actor Morgan Freeman as well as labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta will air beginning on Fridayin Fresno, Sacramento, and Los Angeles media markets. Some ads will also target Latino voters and Asian American voters. The total value of the buy is about six figures according to the Clinton campaign." Meanwhile, a new poll shows Sanders within the margin of error, trailing Clinton 44%-46%.