Tri-Caucus Chairs Urge Congressional Leaders to Defend the Antiquities Act

Apr 18, 2017 Issues: Other Issues

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Congressional Tri-Caucus – which is composed of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC), the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) – sent a letter to Congressional leaders urging them to oppose any efforts that would restrict the President’s authority under the Antiquities Act and that would eliminate or reduce the boundaries of any existing national monument.

Released on the International Day for Monuments and Sites, the letter urges the leaders to defend the Antiquities Act, a law enacted by Congress in 1906 that has preserved world-renown places like the Statue of Liberty and the Grand Canyon. Used by the majority of Presidents since its enactment – eight Republicans and eight Democrats – the Antiquities Act is a time-tested, bipartisan tool that has helped tell our nation’s diverse story of struggles, hopes, and opportunities.

As the Tri-Caucus Chairs write, “A nation dedicated to the proposition that all of us are created equal must preserve and celebrate the full diversity of its rich culture and history. Any attempt to curtail the President’s authority to protect these places or to remove protections already put in place by other Presidents is an attack on our shared history. We urge you to stand against any proposal that would diminish existing national monuments or hamper the President’s ability to protect places that honor the contributions of all Americans.”

The letter is aligned with public opinion. In fact, a recent bi-partisan poll from The Colorado College State of the Rockies Project found that 80 percent of respondents supported keeping national monument designations. Recently, the Antiquities Act was used to designate the following sites as national monuments: Honouliuli National Monument, Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad, Cesar Chavez National Monument, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, Freedom Riders National Monument, Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks.

 

COPY OF LETTER

The Honorable Paul Ryan
Speaker of the House                   
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Democratic Leader                   
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Mitch McConnell 
Majority Leader
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Charles Schumer
Democratic Leader

U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Speaker Ryan, Democratic Leader Pelosi, Majority Leader McConnell and Democratic Leader Schumer:

As the Chairs of the Congressional Tri-Caucus – composed of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus – we strongly urge you to oppose any efforts that would restrict the President’s authority under the Antiquities Act to protect historic places that reflect the rich diversity of our nation. Further, we urge you to oppose any effort that would eliminate or reduce the boundaries of any existing national monument.

In the 110 years since it was signed into law, the Antiquities Act has been used by 16 Presidents – 8 from each party – to protect iconic places like the Grand Canyon, the Statue of Liberty, President Lincoln’s Cottage at the Soldiers’ Home, and other sites of great scientific, ecological, historic, and cultural value. Presidents have used the Antiquities Act to recognize the abolishment of slavery; the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II; the struggles for civil rights and equality for women and LGBT Americans; the labor and farm workers movements; the dreams and aspirations of immigrants who sought refuge, freedom, and opportunity in our country; ancestral pueblo sites and traditional Native American uses of the land; and many other places that allow us to tell the full American story to our children and grandchildren.

The Census Bureau predicts that by 2043, a majority of our country’s residents will be people of color. Despite a growing number of Parks and Monuments in the United States that are dedicated to celebrating the diverse communities that have enriched our nation, less than 15 percent of the units in our National Park System reflect the contributions of minorities and women. 

A nation dedicated to the proposition that all of us are created equal must preserve and celebrate the full diversity of its rich culture and history.  Any attempt to curtail the President’s authority to protect these places or to remove protections already put in place by other Presidents is an attack on our shared history.  We urge you to stand against any proposal that would diminish existing national monuments or hamper the President’s ability to protect places that honor the contributions of all Americans.

Sincerely,

CHC Chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham
CBC Chairman Cedric Richmond
CAPAC Chairwoman Judy Chu

Cc:

Secretary Ryan Zinke, Department of the Interior
Acting Secretary Michael Young, Department of Agriculture
Secretary Wilbur Ross, Department of Commerce