Republicans Seek to Sell Off Disposable Federal Real Estate to Help Pay Debt

March 20, 2011


Three Republican lawmakers are seeking to force Uncle Sam to sell about 3.3 million acres of land he no longer needs to help pay down the national debt.

Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Mike Lee of Utah and Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah introduced legislation this week in their respective chambers that would order Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to dispose of the federal property that the Clinton administration identified in a 1997 report as suitable for sale.

The lands are located in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming and amounts to roughly 1 percent of all land managed by the Bureau of Land Management and less than one half of 1 percent of all federal land, the lawmakers said.

“The federal budget, much like the household budgets of millions of American families, is stretched alarmingly thin in today’s fiscal climate. Congress must explore all possible avenues for reducing our $1.4 trillion deficit and all ballooning $14 trillion national debt,” McCain said in a statement. “Our legislation aims to reduce the federal estate in a way that’s mindful of how we currently manage our public lands and seeks to dispose land that the federal government simply does not want.”

Sen. Mike Lee said the sale of the land alone could generate more than $1 billion and lead to strong economic development.

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