“NO” on the American Battlefield Protection Program Amendments Act
This week, the House is scheduled to vote on the American Battlefield Protection Program Amendments Act of 2013 (H.R.1033), sponsored by Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ). The bill would expand eligibility of the Battlefield Acquisition Grant Program, which provides taxpayer handouts to state and local governments to purchase eligible land that is not within the boundaries of the National Park System.
According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate, “implementing H.R. 1033 would cost $46 million over the 2014-2018 period and about $4 million after 2018.” The spending on land acquisition comes when National Park Service (NPS) officials, who administer the battlefield program, claim “there’s no fat left to trim” and cite sequester-related budget cuts for reduced services, facility closures and hiring freezes. Adding more land into the system – be it at the federal, state or local level – in the current budgetary environment is irresponsible.
Under the Battlefield Acquisition Grant Program, taxpayer money goes to more than simply helping local governments acquire land. For example, in 2012, a battlefield grant for $20,000 was awarded to the Virginia Department of Historic Resources for the purpose of “hold[ing] a two day instructional workshop for battlefield landowners” to “focus on landscape analysis and conservation easement policy.”
Heritage Action opposes H.R.1033 and will include it as a key vote on our scorecard.