After Republicans Refuse, Democrats Hold Their Own Hearing On The Malheur Wildlife Refuge Takeover

Democrats from the House committees on Natural Resources and Homeland Security this week held a joint forum that focused on the steps that need to be taken to confront violent extremism on America’s public lands. The forum comes five months after Ammon Bundy and a group of anti-government extremists took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon and held it for 41 days.

The forum addressed the recent threats to federal lands and land management officials, as well as domestic terrorism more broadly. This forum was the first time Congress has addressed extremism on public lands or the dangerous situations created by the Bundy family and their supporters.

In April, House Natural Resources ranking member Raúl Grijalva along with Rep. Huffman and Rep. Tsongas requested a full committee oversight hearing on the armed occupation at Malheur and related threats of violence occurring on public lands. Committee Chairman Rob Bishop denied the hearing request and the Majority has so far largely refused to condemn the actions of Bundy and the rest of the armed extremists.

The fact that this was an informal forum and not a full bi-partisan committee hearing did not go unnoticed. Panelists and members of Congress alike expressed disappointment in the issue’s lack of bipartisan attention.

In addition to sweeping the issue under the rug, committee members blamed the rhetoric and actions of Rob Bishop and other anti-park politicians for fanning the flames of these anti-government extremists.

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