Congressional Republicans declare open season on federal lands

House Republicans have changed the way Congress calculates the cost of transferring federal lands to the states and other entities, a move that will make it easier for members of the new Congress to cede federal control of public lands.

The provision, included as part as a larger rules package the House approved by a vote of 233 to 190 during its first day in session, highlights the extent to which some congressional Republicans hope to change longstanding rules now that the GOP will control the executive and the legislative branches.

Current rules requiring spending offsets would be abolished. The change is part of the House rules package. It would mean that lawmakers would no longer have to find spending offsets for bills that transfer federal land to state or tribal entities.

Democrats argue that these lands should be managed on behalf of all Americans, not just those living nearby, and warn that cash-strapped state and local officials might sell these parcels to developers.

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