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White House Proposes 16% Cut To Interior Department Budget

David Bernhardt
Farm Bureau/U.S. Department of Agriculture
David Bernhardt, who served as Deputy Secretary and Secretary of Interior.

The Trump administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2021 would cut the Department of Interior over 16% from its FY2020 budget.

The proposal out Monday from the White House includes cuts of 10% for the Bureau of Land Management, 32% for the Bureau of Reclamation, 16% for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and 9% for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. 

Conservation and environmental groups were sharply critical of proposed cuts to programs, like the Land and Water Conservation Fund

“Thankfully, bipartisan majorities in Congress have rejected previous attempts to gut the Interior Department budget and are poised to do so again,” said Jennifer Rokala in a statement. Rokala is executive director of the Center for Western Priorities. “This attempt to kneecap the agency in charge of our parks and public lands is clearly dead on arrival.”

Officials at Interior, meanwhile, had a rosier view of the budget plan. 

Scott Cameron, principal deputy assistant secretary for Policy, Management and Budget, told reporters the $12.8 billion in spending for FY2021 was more than the White House proposed for his department last year.

“I think the important message is that in a budget-constrained environment, we think the White House has treated us quite well,” he said.

Budget proposals from the president do not typically end up as law. Members of Congress will negotiate actual spending. Last year, lawmakers agreed to a spending increase of more than $300 billion over two years across the entire federal government, even after the White House had proposed sharp cuts to domestic spending.

Agencies in the Department of Interior manage most of the federal lands in the West (including over 16 million acres in Arizona) for recreation, energy development, protection of animal species and other uses. Interior also houses the Bureau of Reclamation, which manages western dams and rivers.

Bret Jaspers was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2017 to 2020.