7:46 PM EDT
Christopher "Chris" S. Murphy, D-CT 5th

Mr. MURPHY of Connecticut. Mr. Chairman, I join my friend from New Hampshire as one of the cosponsors of this amendment, and I urge House passage.

Let me say at the outset that this is a terrible bill. This is the first time I have come to the House floor to speak on it. It goes without saying that the devastation that this underlying legislation would do to our, frankly, century-long history of environmental protection is almost indescribable. The League of Conservation Voters said simply this: that this bill is the biggest assault on the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the wildlife and wild places we hold dear to ever come before

Congress.

It rolls back new vehicle emission standards. It guts the Clean Water Act. It defunds the Endangered Species Act. And in the middle of it all, it adds an 80 percent cut to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. As my friend, Representative Bass, rightly pointed out, it essentially reverses 50 years of investment in land conservation by returning this account back to the 1965 level.

It was a great Republican President, Teddy Roosevelt, who first had the wisdom to understand how integral the open spaces of this country are to what it means to be an American. There is something unique about this country. The views and the vistas are just one part of it. Our identity is wrapped up in the places that we have conserved, the places that we have conserved through the very rightful acts of investment by our Federal Government over the last 50 years, indeed, over the last 100 years.

And it has been Republican and Democratic Presidents, Republican and Democratic Congresses that since that moment of awakening in this Nation have realized this is the right kind of investment for this Nation. It is the right kind of investment because not only does it preserve the character of our Nation, but it does so by leveraging private investment and State investment.

As Representative Bass noted, one of the most important pieces of LWCF is the Forest Legacy Program. That program has conserved 2 million acres around the country. In my State of Connecticut, it has helped conserve 8,000 acres, and it does it by partnering with State resources, with local resources, and with private resources; in my State, often through the generosity of land trusts. This is an incredibly wise investment, as it has been over the years.

And worst of all, this isn't even getting at the larger question of deficit reduction because this account has never been funded through deficits or borrowing. It has been funded through the money that comes from our offshore oil leases.

There are so many horrible cuts in this bill. There are so many reasons for those of us who believe in the concept of environmental protection made real by bipartisan support over the course of the last century to oppose this bill. But this, in my mind, is the worst of it. This is a sad day where we stand today. This is a small, small increase beyond what the Republicans have proposed to cut, but I think it is meaningful in the sense that it is an opportunity for this Congress to come together

and say what dozens upon dozens of Congresses have said since 1965, that it is an American investment to spend Federal money toward the project of land conservation.

I yield back the balance of my time.

[Time: 19:50]