Rehberg’s unpopular federal land-grab bill panned during Senate hearing

Secretary: H.R. 1505 is unnecessary and ‘bad policy’

BILLINGS, Mont. – The nation’s homeland security chief today panned Congressman Dennis Rehberg’s unpopular federal land-grab bill, saying the legislation is unnecessary “bad policy.”

Rehberg’s H.R. 1505, the misnamed “National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act,” undermines at least 36 existing laws in order to give the U.S. Department of Homeland Security unprecedented control over public lands within 100 miles of Montana’s northern border with Canada.

Rehberg defends the legislation, despite overwhelming opposition from Montanans across the political spectrum—from hunting and fishing organizations to advocates of smaller government.  Conservative Montana blogger Dr. Ed Berry calls H.R. 1505 a “fatal betrayal of America.”

During a Senate hearing Thursday, Jon Tester told Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that H.R. 1505 is a “one-size-fits-all” approach that isn’t effective in “catching bad guys.” [CQ Transcripts, accessed 3/8/2012]

“It’s about allowing governmental agents to build roads and watchtowers and buildings in places where other agencies, even tribal units, would not have any input,” Tester said.

“In my judgment 1505 is unnecessary and it’s bad policy,” Napolitano responded.  “We don’t need it for our immediate border control needs.”

During a recent interview on KECI-TV, Rehberg said H.R. 1505 is “just saying ‘Let the Border Patrol and the customs agents have access to federal property.’” [KECI-TV, 2/29/12]

Napolitano, who visited Montana’s northern border in 2010, said that thanks to existing agreements between agencies, federal security officers already have access to federal lands if they are “doing a chase.”