Raúl Grijalva Tells Interior to Stop Bringing Furloughed Employees Back to Work
Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) asked the Interior Department to stop bringing back employees who were furloughed during the government shutdown to work on sales of land for oil and gas drilling purposes in the Gulf of Mexico. In a letter sent on Wednesday to Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, he called the move "an outrageous step." The House Natural Resources Committee, of which Grijalva is Chair, learned that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management had changed its contingency plan on January 8th to allow employees to continue working on seismic permits, upcoming offshore lease sales, and the five-year offshore oil and gas leasing program. "We urge you to reverse these actions immediately and prioritize health, safety and the protection of natural resources over the needs of the oil and gas industry," Grijalva wrote. "If you refuse, we insist that you come to Capitol Hill this week for a detailed briefing providing the legal justification for what appears to be a violation of the Antideficiency Act, and providing information on where the funding for these activities is coming from, how it is being spent, and what the consequences are of spending that funding during the shutdown." The Antideficiency Act prohibits "accepting voluntary services for the United States, or employing personal services not authorized by law." More here.