GOP lawmakers pushed for the passage of a set of bills that would protect State land rights by limiting Presidential authority to create national historical or natural landmarks. The authority to do so was granted via the 1906 Antiquities Act.
On Tuesday, Republican lawmakers argued that Presidents from both political parties have abused the authority, tying up State lands for national monuments without satisfactory public and Congressional input. In fact, Presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush are the only Commanders in Chief that have not used the authority to establish Federal landmarks since Theodore Roosevelt made the Antiquities Act law.
President Barack Obama has used the authority aggressively, compared to many of his predecessors, having created nine new national monuments throughout the Nation in little more than four years.
Five of the Congressional bills under consideration would bar the creation or expansion of new Federally named monuments in Nevada, Utah, Montana, Idaho and New Mexico. Two other bills would require Congressional and State approval of new monuments, respectively. Another bill would limit the President to one monument per State per term and allow those designations to expire, pending Congressional approval.
One of the biggest Republican arguments for more oversight with regard to the Presidential authority to create monuments on State lands is that it disallows the States the opportunity to use, and thereby profit from, the property.