Welcome to Biggs' Freedom Fridays
February 23, 2018 - Protecting Arizona’s Sovereign Lands
What does the 1906 Antiquities Act do?
The 1906 Antiquities Act gives the President broad authority to establish national monuments on federal lands that contain historic landmarks, prehistoric structures, or other objects of historic or scientific interest. The monuments should be created in “the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”
Congress has possessed the authority to establish or expand national monuments on federal lands since the founding of our great nation. Unfortunately, with the passage of the 1906 Antiquities Act, Congress once again delegated this authority to the executive branch.
Why is this a problem?
The executive branch has exploited this power – especially in recent years. President Obama and his administration frequently used it to prevent economic development on federal lands and to advance the left’s political agenda.
Today, the federal government owns approximately 40 percent of Arizona’s sovereign territory. The establishment and expansion of monuments on federal lands is concerning to Arizona because of the lack of public participation, congressional and state approval, and attention to land management issues before a Presidential proclamation is issued.
What am I doing about it?
I introduced H.R. 4797, which prohibits the extension or establishment of national monuments in Arizona except by express authorization of Congress. This bill addresses the concerns of my constituents and gives Arizona a seat at the table.
What are they saying?
“Through massive executive overreach, the Obama Administration abused the Antiquities Act more than any other president in history — designating or expanding 34 national monuments and locking-up 553.6 million acres of total land and water with the stroke of his pen. This issue is not political — no president, regardless of party affiliation, should have authority to lock away public land by executive fiat. I applaud my colleague and friend Rep. Andy Biggs for introducing a bill that would reinstate Congress’s constitutional powers over federal lands, and I join him in the fight to prevent unilateral land grabs by the executive branch in our home state of Arizona.” – Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar
“Limitless and unilateral are not terms we often hear in a democracy, but they apply perfectly to the President's broad authority under the Antiquities Act. In its current form, the Antiquities Act goes against our basic principles as a society.” – Ethan Lane, Executive Director, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Federal Lands and the Public Lands Council
Article I of the United States Constitution grants Congress exclusive power to write federal laws. This structure allows the American people to hold their elected representatives accountable for the policy decisions they make. Over the years, however, Congress has increasingly ceded power to the executive branch by allowing agencies run by unelected bureaucrats to implement regulations that have the force and effect of law.
In 2016 alone, the Obama Administration published nearly 4,000 new regulations. Compared to the number of laws passed by Congress in the same year, that averages out to 18 regulations for every new law. Aside from the constitutional concerns, these regulations have a significant negative impact on the American economy. When factoring in the federal intervention, uncertainty, wealth destruction, job loss, and overall stifling of entrepreneurship, the 2016 cost of regulations was $1.89 trillion, or nearly $15,000 per household. It is time for Congress to reclaim ownership of its privilege and responsibility to write the laws for our nation. The American people must no longer suffer at the hands of unaccountable federal officials.
During the early months of the 115th Congress, the House and the Senate used the Congressional Review Act to overturn 14 regulations implemented in the waning days of the Obama Administration. It is estimated that the repeal of these rules alone could save the economy millions of hours of paperwork, as much as $3.7 billion in regulatory costs to federal agencies, and up to $35 billion in compliance costs for industry.
We made an excellent start to rolling back the regulatory state, but it absolutely should not end our efforts. My main priority while in Congress is to restore the constitutional parameters of the federal government, including ending overregulation. With that in mind, each Friday, I will highlight a freedom-killing regulation that is currently in effect. Check back here each week for updates and follow along in the “Freedom Fridays” section of my newsletter. If you do not already receive my newsletter, you can sign up here.