Grijalva, Democrats Will Press Zinke on Major Ethics Lapses, Environmental Policy Failures at Thursday Budget Hearing

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva

Published March 14, 2018

WASHINGTON – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Natural Resources Committee Democrats will focus Thursday’s budget hearing with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on Zinke’s ethical, professional and managerial failures and the impacts of President Trump’s extreme DOI budget cut proposal, which would eliminate more than 1,000 full-time staff and reduce the department’s capacity to carry out its basic conservation functions in the coming years. The hearing will showcase Democratic opposition to Trump’s and Zinke’s extremist proposals to gut DOI and its agencies, like the National Park Service, charged with protecting America’s heritage.

In his role heading the U.S. Department of the Interior, Zinke oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education.

“When Secretary Zinke and President Trump look at our country, they don’t see landscapes to be protected or history to be preserved, they see huge profits to hand out to their friends,” Grijalva said today. “Despite what Secretary Zinke seems to think, traveling around the country at taxpayer expense to deliver political speeches and raise money for Republican causes is not his job. The American people demand to know how he intends to prevent Trump’s gutting of the department he oversees, and Democrats are ready to press him on those questions until he gives straight answers.”

Among other topics, Grijalva and Committee Democrats are expected to ask Zinke how Trump’s extremist budget cuts are consistent with DOI’s conservation mission; why he is considering a public royalty cut for offshore oil leases despite having no economic data to support the idea; why he has failed to properly manage day-to-day operations, such as the $139,000 taxpayer-funded door to his office he claims not to have known about until it was too late; and why he has traveled at taxpayer expense to the Virgin Islands and elsewhere to give political speeches and attend fundraisers that have nothing to do with his official duties.

The hearing follows a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Tuesday, which featured multiple instances of Zinke filibustering and refusing to answer simple questions from Democratic lawmakers.

“There are policy failures and there are personal failures,” Grijalva said ahead of Thursday’s hearing. “Secretary Zinke is guilty of both. He’d better have more serious answers to offer than the ones he gave the Senate on Tuesday.”

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