A top House Democrat is raising alarms over reports that President Trump will propose drastic cuts to the Interior Department's budget, which he warned would shutter such renowned national parks as Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon.
Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, said the reported 10 percent cut at the agency would have wide-ranging, disastrous effects for many of the bureaus under Interior's control, including the National Park Service and early warning systems meant to protect cities and states from natural disasters.
"Closing national parks, hobbling critical federal agencies and blinding ourselves to natural disasters is beyond reckless," Grijalva said Wednesday. "This president is trying to run the federal budget like it's a first grade math problem. Instead of trying to comprehend the complexities of a budget for a country this size, he just wants to subtract 10 percent and go to lunch early."
The White House is scheduled to release its fiscal 2018 budget blueprint on Thursday, detailing anticipated cuts to federal agencies.
Trump's newly appointed Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said this month that he has seen the proposed cuts and is "not happy." He vowed to fight for the restoration of funds, especially the deep cuts anticipated for the national parks. Recent reports suggested the cuts to the department would be done with a broad 10 percent across-the-board cut.
Grijalva's office said that "if implemented evenly across [Interior Department] agencies, a 10 percent reduction would eliminate funding equal to the budgets of the 12 largest National Park Service units, including Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Everglades and Great Smoky Mountains national parks."
It also would significantly impair the Bureau of Land Management's oil and gas inspection program, the U.S. Geological Survey's early warning system for detecting landslides, earthquakes and volcanic activity, National Wildlife Refuge visitor centers and every fish hatchery under the agency's jurisdiction.
Grijalva said the cuts are not "assured," but if made would be disastrous to the nation regardless of political affiliation. He charged Republicans not to go along with the cuts, saying "the FY18 budget presents a crucial test of whether Republicans in Washington are capable of offering ideas beyond those the Trump administration approves."
Trump's budget, which has to be approved by Congress, would make cuts to other agencies to fuel the president's defense spending agenda, which seeks a $54 billion increase to the Defense Department budget.
"Gutting our environmental agencies to pay for bombs, tanks and missiles we don't need is immoral, and the voters won't forget it," Grijalva said. "Before they sign off on that program, Republicans might consider what happened in Washington after the American people got fed up with the Bush administration."