Dear friends and supporters,
After a long, brutal campaign, Donald Trump has emerged victorious and will be our 45th President of the United States of America. This election has brought the deep divisions within our nation sharply into focus, and we understand that many have strong feelings regarding the outcome of the election. Because we at the Refuge Association are Americans who care passionately about our shared wildlife heritage as well as for our democracy, we will give President-elect Trump a chance.
This is not to suggest the Refuge Association will relax for a single instant when it comes to protecting the Refuge System and America’s wildlife. We will educate President-elect Trump and his Administration on the merits of the National Wildlife Refuge System and demand adequate funding to ensure continued wildlife conservation efforts and increase recreational access. During his campaign, Trump stated that he would not support the larger GOP platform to sell off public lands. We will hold him to this promise to keep our public lands public. Just as we have always done since our founding in 1975, regardless of which party controlled the White House, Senate, or House, we will closely monitor the actions of the Administration and Congress, ready to stop any effort to undermine the integrity of the Refuge System. Our conviction and commitment is unwavering. We will remain true to our mission and support and defend the Refuge System when it is under threat.
Nature has the power to bring people together, something so desperately needed during these trying times. The National Wildlife Refuge System belongs to each and every American, and as such Refuge System supporters come from all walks of life. Wildlife conservation in America has always been bipartisan, and the conservation legacy the Refuge System preserves is a part of the core fabric of our great country. If President-elect Trump is truly committed to bringing our nation together, as he declared in his victory speech, then supporting the National Wildlife Refuge System must be a part of those efforts. We are grateful for all the work Refuge Association supporters like you have done to protect the Refuge System, and we hope you will continue to stand with us regardless of your political leanings because our wildlife and our Refuge System need every single one of you. Together, we will protect the National Wildlife Refuge System and conserve our nation’s wildlife for all and future generations of Americans.
President, National Wildlife Refuge Association
What is going to happen during the President-elect Trump transition?
The Trump Transition Team has begun to meet with senior agency officials including those from the Department of Interior, to conduct interviews and prepare policy agendas for the next four years.
Many refuge and public lands supporters are eager to see who the Trump Administration will appoint for the Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service along with various Assistant Secretary positions, which will be finalized in the next few months. These important decisions will play a significant role in how Refuge System policy will be conducted over the course of the next four years.
The Refuge Association and partners within the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement (CARE) will be presenting recommendations to the Trump Transition Team to urge them to increase funding for the Refuge System as a top priority.
The Refuge Association urges President-elect Trump to use the Refuge System to re-connect Americans to nature, aid in the adaptation to climate change, and embrace the Refuge System for what it is – the largest wildlife conservation system of lands and waters on Earth. Our transition recommendations focuses on increasing funding for the Refuge System, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, embracing the new responsibilities of the marine national monuments, increasing support for public/private partnerships and more.
The Lame Duck Session Begins
On November 14th, Congress returned to Washington D.C. for a lame duck session. Current plans include passing a short –term Continuing Resolution (CR) that will fund the government until the end of March, which will provide time for President-elect Trump to more clearly articulate his priorities and develop a budget. There is a chance that Congress could try to do budgets for both FY 2017 and FY 2018 but final decisions have not been made. The Refuge Association will be working with congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle to ensure that damaging riders are removed but GOP leaders have signaled that the CR will not be “clean” and will contain other provisions.
Outlook for the 115th Congress – What We Know So Far
The Presidency of the United States wasn’t the only election on November 8th. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives were up for grabs, along with a third of the Senate.
After all ballots were cast and counted, Republicans in both the House and the Senate retained their majority. In the House, the GOP won 238 seats, while the Democrats secured 193 (there are still four seats that have not been officially called, with runoff elections scheduled for the coming weeks). In the upper chamber the divide is much closer, with Republicans controlling 51 seats (expected to become 52 after Louisiana’s runoff vote in December) and the Democrats, along with two Independents, holding 48 seats.
With the results of the Congressional election shake-up in, members have begun vying for various committee and subcommittee assignments. At the Refuge Association, we closely monitor both Appropriations committees (which dole out the discretionary spending that funds the Refuge System), the Natural Resources Committee in the House, and the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and Environment and Public Works Committee in the Senate (which have jurisdiction over all non-funding refuge legislation). Here’s the latest on these committees’ leadership:
Chair, Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) – NEW
Ranking Member, Nita Lowey (D-NY) – No Change
Chair, Thad Cochran (R-MS) – No Change
RM, Patrick Leahy (D-VT) – NEW
House Natural Resources
Chair, Rob Bishop (R-UT) – No Change
RM, Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) – No Change
Senate Environment and Public Works
Chair, John Barrasso (R-WY) – NEW
RM, Tom Carper (D-DE) – NEW
Senate Energy and Natural Resources
Chair, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) – No Change
RM, Maria Cantwell (D-WA) – No Change
An election year also provides an opportunity for both parties to vote on their leadership. In the Senate, Mitch McConnell (KY) retained leadership of the GOP, while Chuck Schumer (NY) was chosen to take over leadership for the Democrats to replace retiring Harry Reid (NV). In the House, Paul Ryan (WI) and Kevin McCarthy (CA) maintained their Speaker and Majority Leader roles, respectively. The Dems punted their vote to November 30, where current Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (NY) will face off against challenger Tim Ryan (OH).
The National Wildlife Refuge Association is on the cutting edge of wildlife habitat conservation and citizen engagement in the United States. But we need your help to advance our work protecting large landscapes, educating decision-makers in Washington, and mobilizing refuge Friends in support of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Please make a generous donation today!
Flyer Masthead Photo Credit: Kestrel, Wade Dowdy