To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s opening remarks, please click here.
To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s questioning, please click here.
Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee considered the nomination of Robert Wallace to be Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks at the Department of the Interior. The position of Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks at the Department of the Interior has not had a Senate confirmed office holder for nearly eight years. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, expressed his support for Mr. Wallace’s nomination and questioned him about whether he thinks National Parks should remain open during government shutdowns.
“I look forward to working with you. I look forward to voting for you. I think you have a great opportunity, Mr. Wallace, to really make some changes—the necessary changes—and also be able to have the support in a bipartisan way of the resources that will be needed to do park maintenance to basically secure our parks and make it more user-friendly. I really do look forward to working with you and think you’re going to do a great job,” Senator Manchin said.
Senator Manchin questioned Mr. Wallace about what actions he would take in regards to the operation of the National Park System should the federal government shut down again.
“We had a government shutdown in 2013 and we shut down every National Park. Last year, we had another shutdown because of our inability to do our jobs. Last time, Mr. Bernhardt kept the parks open to the point where sanitary conditions became intolerable. He had to make a decision and he made the decision to reach into fees of the park and used about a quarter of a million dollars to hire people to come in and clean the bathrooms, garbage and things of that sort. If this happens again, have you given any thought to how you would handle that?” Senator Manchin asked.
“It’s an important question. I’ve talked to superintendents who have used fee money to keep their parks open during the shutdown and it’s a question I would like to get more educated on,” Mr. Wallace said.
Additionally, Mr. Wallace expressed support for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), stating that “It is a marvelous tool to help people enjoy their public lands and recreate” and that he is “fully committed to working to see funding at the level you all find satisfactory.” Senator Manchin is the lead sponsor of the bipartisan Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act(S. 1081), to ensure continued funding for the program.
To watch the hearing in full click here.