Water Rights Protection Act

Floor Speech

Date: March 13, 2014
Location: Washington, DC


Madam Chair, this is often characterized as a Western issue, and it is not a Western issue. The water wars that go on in the West are certainly a special type of battle; but this is an American issue in what it does.

There are two really interesting things going on, on the House floor today, that I hope all of my colleagues and I hope the American people are watching.

On the one hand, there is a really neat moment of agreement that is happening here. You hear so much about disagreement in Washington. The Federal Government issues an order that says, in order to continue to exercise your business, you must surrender your private property to the government. Well, we could all agree that is outrageous.

I thank the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. Tipton) for leading in the effort to repeal that, which has been a bipartisan effort on both sides of the aisle. We have an actual order--an actual proposal, and we can come together and agree that this is not who we are, as a people. It is very interesting, and I am glad that we are able to do that.

The second thing that is happening, Madam Chair, is that there is a concern that a certain class of citizen is going to get a higher and better use of land; and I just want to point out that that certain class is the owner of a private property right. Right? That is actually the debate that is happening here.

If you own something, if something belongs to you, should you be allowed to use it? Or in the name of creating a better country, in the spirit of maximizing the utility of Federal lands, should the Federal Government be able to take that from you and redistribute it, so that things are fairer? That is a legitimate discussion to have.

I come down on the side of my friend from Colorado who says not only is it outrageous that the government tried to take private property rights in this circumstance; but why not take this step now to recognize that private property means something? Not only are we going to protect our ski resorts, but we are going to make sure this never happens to any other American citizens again.

``Extortion'' is a strong word. It is a strong word, but I can think of no other word to apply to what the government was trying to do here today. I am grateful to my friends on both sides of the aisle for moving to stop that.