RED RIVER GRADIENT BOUNDARY SURVEY ACT; Congressional Record Vol. 163, No. 26
(House of Representatives - February 14, 2017)

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[Pages H1154-H1159]
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  Mr. BISHOP of Utah. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to House Resolution 99, I 
call up the bill (H.R. 428) to survey the gradient boundary along the 
Red River in the States of Oklahoma and Texas, and for other purposes, 
and ask for its immediate consideration.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                                H.R. 428

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,


       This Act may be cited as the ``Red River Gradient Boundary 
     Survey Act''.


       In this Act:
       (1) Affected area.--
       (A) In general.--The term ``affected area'' means land 
     along the approximately 116-mile stretch of the Red River, 
     from its confluence with the north fork of the Red River on 
     the West to the 98th meridian on the east.
       (B) Exclusions.--The term ``affected area'' does not 
     include the portion of the Red River within the boundary 
     depicted on the survey prepared by the Bureau of Land 
     Management entitled ``Township 5 South, Range 14 West, of the 
     Indian Meridian, Oklahoma, Dependent Resurvey and Survey'' 
     and dated February 28, 2006.
       (2) Gradient boundary survey method.--The term ``gradient 
     boundary survey method'' means the measurement technique used 
     to locate the South Bank boundary line in accordance with the 
     methodology established in Oklahoma v. Texas, 261 U.S. 340 
     (1923) (recognizing that the boundary line along the Red 
     River is subject to change due to erosion and accretion).
       (3) Landowner.--The term ``landowner'' means any 
     individual, group, association, corporation, federally 
     recognized Indian tribe or member of such an Indian tribe, or 
     other private or governmental legal entity that owns an 
     interest in land in the affected area.
       (4) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary 
     of the Interior, acting through the Director of the Bureau of 
     Land Management.
       (5) South bank.--The term ``South Bank'' means the water-
     washed and relatively permanent elevation or acclivity 
     (commonly known as a ``cut bank'') along the southerly or 
     right side of the Red River that--
       (A) separates the bed of that river from the adjacent 
     upland, whether valley or hill; and
       (B) usually serves, as specified in the fifth paragraph of 
     Oklahoma v. Texas, 261 U.S. 340 (1923)--
       (i) to confine the waters within the bed; and
       (ii) to preserve the course of the river.
       (6) South bank boundary line.--The term ``South Bank 
     boundary line'' means the boundary, with respect to title and 
     ownership, between the States of Oklahoma and Texas 
     identified through the gradient boundary survey method that 
     does not impact or alter the permanent political boundary 
     line between the States along the Red River, as outlined 
     under article II, section B of the Red River Boundary Compact 
     enacted by the States and consented to by Congress pursuant 
     to Public Law 106-288 (114 Stat. 919).


       (a) Survey Required.--
       (1) In general.--The Secretary shall commission a survey to 
     identify the South Bank boundary line in the affected area.
       (2) Requirements.--The survey shall--
       (A) adhere to the gradient boundary survey method;
       (B) span the length of the affected area;
       (C) be conducted by surveyors that are--
       (i) licensed and qualified to conduct official gradient 
     boundary surveys; and
       (ii) selected jointly by and operating under the direction 

       (I) the Texas General Land Office, in consultation with 
     each affected federally recognized Indian tribe; and
       (II) the Oklahoma Commissioners of the Land Office, in 
     consultation with the attorney general of the State of 
     Oklahoma and each affected federally recognized Indian tribe; 

       (D) be completed not later than 2 years after the date of 
     enactment of this Act.
       (b) Approval.--
       (1) State approval.--
       (A) In general.--Not later than 60 days after the date on 
     which the survey under subsection (a)(1) is completed, the 
     Secretary shall submit the survey for approval to--
       (i) the Texas General Land Office, in consultation with 
     each affected federally recognized Indian tribe; and
       (ii) the Oklahoma Commissioners of the Land Office, in 
     consultation with the attorney general of the State of 
     Oklahoma and each affected federally recognized Indian tribe.
       (B) Timing of approval.--Not later than 60 days after the 
     date of receipt of the survey under subparagraph (A), the 
     Texas General Land Office, in consultation with each affected 
     federally recognized Indian tribe, and the Oklahoma 
     Commissioners of the Land Office, in consultation with the 
     attorney general of the State of Oklahoma and each affected 
     federally recognized Indian tribe, shall determine whether to 
     approve the survey.
       (C) Surveys of individual parcels.--
       (i) In general.--Surveys of individual parcels in the 
     affected area shall be conducted in accordance with this 
       (ii) Approval or disapproval.--A survey of an individual 
     parcel conducted under clause (i) shall be approved or 
     disapproved, on an individual basis, by the Texas General 
     Land Office, in consultation with each affected federally 
     recognized Indian tribe, and the Oklahoma Commissioners of 
     the Land Office, in consultation with the attorney general of 
     the State of Oklahoma and each affected federally recognized 
     Indian tribe, by not later than 60 days after the date of 
     receipt of the survey.
       (2) No federal approval required.--The survey conducted 
     under subsection (a)(1), and any survey of an individual 
     parcel described in paragraph (1)(C), shall not be submitted 
     to the Secretary for approval.
       (c) Notices.--
       (1) Secretary.--Not later than 60 days after the date on 
     which a survey for an individual parcel is approved by the 
     Texas General Land Office and the Oklahoma Commissioners of 
     the Land Office, in consultation with the attorney general of 
     the State of Oklahoma, under subsection (b)(1)(C), the heads 
     of those offices shall submit to the Secretary--
       (A) a notice of the approval of the survey; and
       (B) a copy of--
       (i) the survey; and
       (ii) any field notes relating to the individual parcel.
       (2) Adjacent landowners.--Not later than 30 days after the 
     date on which the Secretary receives a notice relating to an 
     individual parcel under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall 
     provide to each landowner of land adjacent to the individual 
       (A) a notice of the approval of the survey; and
       (B) a copy of--
       (i) the survey; and
       (ii) any field notes relating to the individual parcel.


       Nothing in this Act--
       (1) modifies any interest of the State of Oklahoma or 
     Texas, or the sovereignty, property, or trust rights of any 
     federally recognized Indian tribe, relating to land located 
     north of the South Bank boundary line, as established by the 
       (2) modifies any land patented under the Act of December 
     22, 1928 (45 Stat. 1069, chapter 47; 43 U.S.C. 1068) 
     (commonly known as the ``Color of Title Act''), before the 
     date of enactment of this Act;
       (3) modifies or supersedes the Red River Boundary Compact 
     enacted by the States of Oklahoma and Texas and consented to 
     by Congress pursuant to Public Law 106-288 (114 Stat. 919);
       (4) creates or reinstates any Indian reservation or any 
     portion of such a reservation; or
       (5) alters any valid right of the State of Oklahoma or the 
     Kiowa, Comanche, or Apache Indian tribes to the mineral 
     interest trust fund established under the Act of June 12, 
     1926 (44 Stat. 740, chapter 572).


       There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary to 
     carry out this Act $1,000,000.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to House Resolution 99, the 
gentleman from Utah (Mr. Bishop) and the gentlewoman from Hawaii (Ms. 
Hanabusa) each will control 30 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Utah.

                             General Leave

  Mr. BISHOP of Utah. I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 
5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and insert 
extraneous material on H.R. 428.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Utah?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. BISHOP of Utah. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman 
from Texas (Mr. Thornberry), the sponsor of this piece of legislation.
  Mr. THORNBERRY. Mr. Speaker, first, let me thank Chairman Bishop

[[Page H1155]]

for not only yielding me the time, but for his patience and diligence 
and understanding this issue, and I also want to thank Subcommittee 
Chairman McClintock for the work that he has put into it.
  The Natural Resources Committee has conducted hearings on this issue. 
They have reported out bills related to this issue in the last two 
Congresses, and last Congress, the whole House voted for a bill that 
deals with this issue. I am grateful to Chairman Bishop and 
Subcommittee Chair McClintock for all of that effort.
  Mr. Speaker, this bill is just a small sliver of what this House has 
passed before. This bill requires the Federal Government to do what the 
Federal Government should have done long ago, and that is to conduct a 
survey along the Red River following the instructions of the United 
States Supreme Court. That is all this bill does.
  It does not dispose of any land; it does not alter the rights or 
claims of any State, any tribe, any individual. It just says the 
Federal Government has a responsibility to know what the Federal 
Government is supposed to be controlling. They have never, ever 
conducted a survey of this area, and so this bill says: You will have a 
survey conducted using the method that the United States Supreme Court 
has repeatedly held is a method you ought to use.
  I am a little taken aback, Mr. Speaker, on why that should be 
controversial. We could go on at some length about how this came to be. 
It is interesting, historically, and we could go into a variety of 
details and so forth; but, again, the bottom line is the Federal law 
currently says the Federal Government has a responsibility to inventory 
and ascertain where Federal land is. Yet the Bureau of Land Management 
not only has never done it in close to 100 years after the Supreme 
Court decision, the Bureau of Land Management has said they never 
intend to. They will never conduct a survey of this 116-mile area.
  So this bill, as I say, is very simple. It says the Bureau of Land 
Management shall commission a survey, jointly agreed upon by Texas and 
Oklahoma, tribal and other interests a full part of that, but there 
will, once and for all, be a survey to determine where the Federal 
claim is and where the Federal claim is not.
  Now, part of the reason that is so important is because the Bureau of 
Land Management has, especially in 2013, come out and made a variety of 
claims that has thrown in doubt the proper title and ownership of land 
that has been in families for generations, that people have paid taxes 
on for generations. That has put a cloud on title of private 
landowners, and it does not help that cloud when the Bureau of Land 
Management says: We will never conduct a survey to determine exactly 
where the claim is.
  So everyone, Mr. Speaker, every State, every tribe, every local 
government, every individual--even the Federal Government and the BLM 
itself--deserves to know where the claims rightfully are and where the 
claims are rightfully not.
  First step is information. That is all this bill does. I think it is 
pretty clear that we should at least take this step.
  Ms. HANABUSA. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, Federal ownership of the land along the Red River dates 
back to the Louisiana Purchase. Over time, gradual changes in the 
course of the river have created uncertainty regarding Federal 
interests in the area as well as confusion about the exact boundary 
between Texas and Oklahoma. Further complicating the matter, Native 
American Tribes have mineral and other interests in the area impacted 
by the precise ownership of the land in question.
  In fact, as noted in the Supreme Court case of Oklahoma v. Texas, a 
1923 case, the decision was the boundaries were changed due to 
accretion and erosion. It is important to note that the gentleman from 
Texas does not dispute the criteria set forth by the Supreme Court in 
Oklahoma v. Texas. Moreover, in 2000, Congress passed the Red River 
Boundary Compact, which shifted the boundary line between the States, 
but the location and status of lands in the public domain remain 
unchanged. Along the 116-mile stretch, a portion of the land in the Red 
River area is still under Federal ownership because it has never been 
disposed of under the authority of Congress.
  In 2013, the Bureau of Land Management set out to revise the Federal 
resource management plan for Federal lands--not private lands, Federal 
lands--in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas. As part of that process, the BLM 
began to survey the lands to determine the extent of all ownership 
claims. According to the 2014 testimony from the Deputy Director of the 
BLM, Steve Ellis, the survey process the BLM intends ``to identify, 
with certainty, and propose management alternatives for lands which 
fall within the public domain but have never been patented, reserved, 
or disposed.''
  According to that same testimony, the BLM estimates that 
approximately 30,000 acres of public land exist along the Red River 
between the north fork of the river and the 98th meridian. They also 
estimate that as many as 23,000 of those acres may be overlaid by 
private ownership interests.

  One of the most significant and advantageous parts about the process 
for updating land use plans is that it includes steps along the way 
that allow for public input, analysis, and informed decisionmaking.
  Once the survey is complete, the BLM has a variety of statutory 
authorities the agency can use to resolve conflicting claims, including 
the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and the Color of Title Act.
  H.R. 428, the bill before us today, has a troubled history. Flaws in 
the bill have prevented it from becoming law for several years. Some of 
those shortcomings have been addressed, but others remain.
  H.R. 428 would halt the planning and survey process in its tracks. 
The bill would strip the Bureau of Land Management of its survey 
authority along the 116-mile stretch of the Red River, and it would 
force the Federal Government to accept the survey completed by the 
States of Texas and Oklahoma.
  Prohibiting the Federal Government from surveying its own land is 
unprecedented and unwarranted. What is also troubling is that, in stark 
violation of Republican policy against authorizations without an 
offset, this legislation authorizes the expenditure of $1 million in 
Federal funding to pay the States to complete the survey.
  It is important to note that allowing State governments to dictate 
the outcome of this process is a terrible precedent, and forcing the 
American taxpayers to pay the States for those surveys adds insult to 

                              {time}  1515

  Parts of this case are currently in the Federal court of the U.S. 
District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The parties include 
the State of Texas, BLM, and plaintiff landowners; and they are in 
mediation working to resolve these very complicated issues. The nature 
of that lawsuit is a quiet title action.
  I include in the Record a minute order dated Tuesday, January 10, 
2017. At the bottom of the order it reads, in relevant part: ``Case did 
not settle but parties are continuing to work on settlement. Court will 
continue to monitor and assist mediation efforts.''

                [Case 7:15-cv-00162-O Document 130 Filed
                         01/19/17 PageID 1449]

                      United States District Court

                       Northern District of Texas

                          Fort Worth Division

                        MINUTE ORDER--Mediation

                       (with parties and counsel)

       JUDGE: Jeffrey L. Cureton
       LAW CLERK: K. Verna
       LOCATION: United States District Court, Wichita Falls, 
       Case No.: 7:15-CV-162-O
       Case Style: Aderholt, et al. v. Bureau of Land Management, 
     et al.
       Date Held: Tuesday, January 10, 2017
       Time: 7:45 a.m-6:00 p.m.
       Persons Present at Mediation:
       Plaintiffs: (1) Kenneth Aderholt, (2) Patrick Canan, (3) 
     Kevin Hunter, (4) Ronald Jackson, (5) William Lalk, (6) 
     Kenneth Patton, (7) Barbara Patton, (8) Jimmy Smith, (9) 
     Kenneth Lemons, Jr. in his capacity of Sheriff of Clay 
     County, Texas, (10) Honorable Lee Harvey and Meredith Kennedy 
     as representatives of Plaintiff Wichita County, Texas, (11) 
     Honorable Kenneth Liggett as Representative of Plaintiff Clay 
     County, Texas, (12) Honorable Greg Tyra and Cory Curtis as 
     Representatives of Plaintiff Wilbarger County, Texas
       Counsel for Plaintiffs: Robert Henneke, Bradley Caldwell, 
     J. Austin Curry, and John Summers
       Counsel for Intervenor Plaintiff State of Texas: Megan Neal 
     and Amy Davis

[[Page H1156]]

       Representatives for Intervenor Plaintiff George P. Bush as 
     Commissioner of the Texas General Land Office: Mark Havens, 
     General Counsel and Mark Neugebauer, Chief Surveyor
       Counsel for Intervenor Plaintiff George P. Bush: Ken Slavin 
     and Deborah Trejo
       Defendants: Robert Casias as Representative of Defendant 
     Bureau of Land Management
       Counsel for Defendants: Romney Philpott, Jason Hill, and 
     Charles Babst
       Mediation conducted with the parties and attorneys. Case 
     did not settle but parties are continuing to work on 
     settlement. Court will continue to monitor and assist 
     mediation efforts.

  Ms. HANABUSA. Mr. Speaker, this bill would undermine the progress of 
the judicial branch and instead prohibit the Federal Government from 
surveying its own land. It also would force the American taxpayers to 
pay the States for these surveys. Shifting this authority, as we said 
earlier, is unprecedented and would cause more confusion.
  We should allow the parties to resolve this conflict, and Congress 
should stay out of it.
  What is troubling is that the bill is being proposed as something 
that brings the parties together. This mediation is doing that.
  More importantly, when you look at the bill itself, the question has 
to be asked: Where is the Department of the Interior? Where is the BLM? 
Let us not forget, it is the Department of the Interior that has the 
fiduciary duty to the tribes.
  The question really is: Can or should Congress abdicate its fiduciary 
obligation that is owed to the tribes by doing this survey?
  H.R. 428 does not warrant consideration by this body. We clearly have 
more important issues facing this Nation. Congress should get out of 
the way and allow the current BLM process to play out. This bill is a 
waste of our valuable time and taxpayers' dollars.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. BISHOP of Utah. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman 
from California (Mr. McClintock), chairman of the Committee on Natural 
Resources' Subcommittee on Federal Lands that deals with this area.
  Mr. McCLINTOCK. Mr. Speaker, I thank Congressman Thornberry for 
working through three congressional sessions to do justice to the 
property owners along the Red River.
  The injustice that this bill corrects is galling. In 1923, the U.S. 
Supreme Court established rules for determining the boundary between 
Texas and Oklahoma, which established property rights over this land.
  For nearly a century, the Federal Government recognized and respected 
the property lines established by this ruling. Property owners 
purchased and sold this land and, in some cases, passed it down from 
generation to generation. These property owners, in good faith, 
dutifully paid taxes on their lands year after year, invested in these 
lands, maintained them, cultivated them, and improved them.
  Nearly 100 years later, in 2013, the Bureau of Land Management 
announced that it was arbitrarily changing these long-established and 
settled boundaries and claiming ownership of 90,000 acres of land. This 
outrageous claim clouds property rights along this vast territory.
  It is based on the flimsiest of pretexts: a 2009 survey of some 6,000 
acres out of the total 90,000 in dispute. This survey ignored the 1923 
Supreme Court decree that originally established the boundary lines, 
and it then extrapolated the results of this limited survey to justify 
this land grab over the entire region. In other words, BLM laid claim 
to these lands with a guess based upon a fraud.
  The BLM has since scaled back its claim to 30,000 acres, a testament 
to the flimsy process with which it has upended the lives of every 
property owner in the region.
  The Red River Private Property Protection Act tells the BLM to back 
off. It authorizes a comprehensive survey of all of the disputed 
acreage to be conducted jointly by the two States directly affected and 
in consultation with the tribal governments involved. It requires that 
the survey be conducted on the longstanding criteria established by the 
Supreme Court, rather than the recent and illegal invention of the BLM.
  Upon the completion of the survey, the States of Texas and Oklahoma, 
in coordination with federally recognized Indian tribes, will review 
and approve the survey to ensure its accuracy and impartiality.
  Without this act, title to the farms and homes will be clouded for 
decades while the matter drags on through the courts. That is the 
course that the gentlewoman suggests we should follow: drag this on for 
years, if not decades, while these property owners languish in 
  Meanwhile, the BLM's assertion of regulatory jurisdiction would have 
devastating impacts on local homeowners and businesses and make it much 
more difficult to encourage economic development in the region.
  This measure is a scaled-down version of the bill passed by this 
House in 2015, in order to address concerns expressed by the American 
Indian Nations involved.
  Mr. Speaker, government exists to protect our natural rights, 
including our property rights, and this bill realigns our government 
with its stated purpose and its stated promise.
  I urge its speedy adoption.
  Ms. HANABUSA. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I think it is very important for us--though they have 
made light of the fact that this has a history, beginning with the 
Louisiana Purchase--that this is not a new issue. There are a series of 
subsequent treaties with foreign governments in 1819, 1828, and 1838, 
which set the south bank of the river as the southern border of the 
United States and the northern border of what is now the State of 
  In 1867, when a portion of this public domain was reserved for the 
Kiowa-Comanche-Apache (KCA) Reservation, the middle of the main channel 
of the river between the 98th meridian and the north fork of the river 
was established as the reservation's southern boundary. The remaining 
land between what is now called the medial line and the southern bank 
retained its status as public land, which continues through the 
  In a series of decisions in the 1920s, the U.S. Supreme Court adopted 
a method known as the gradient boundary method for determining the 
location of the boundary between Texas and Oklahoma along the southern 
bank of the river. In giving certainty to the boundary's location and 
the extent of tribal holdings, the Court's decision also provided a 
basis for clarifying private land ownership on each side of the river.

  In 1981 and 1984, two separate Oklahoma landowners argued in the 
United States District Court that, under riparian law, changes in the 
river's location had expanded their private holdings while reducing the 
acreage of the Texas landowners whose properties faced them across the 
river. In both cases, the district court followed the Supreme Court's 
established principle concerning the location of public and private 
  Private property in Oklahoma extended to the center of the river 
while private property in Texas stopped at the ordinary high-water mark 
on the southern bank, with the remaining land being part of the 
original public domain located in Oklahoma.
  In 2000, the State legislatures of Oklahoma and Texas, along with 
tribal leaders from the neighboring KCA Tribes and Chickasaw and 
Choctaw Nations, attempted to resolve these remaining issues by 
agreeing to the Red River Boundary Compact. Congress later consented to 
the compact, and, in so doing, agreed to move the jurisdictional 
boundary between the States from the south bank gradient line to the 
south bank vegetation line.
  The BLM began updating its resource management plan for public lands 
in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, which includes the area along the Red 
River, in 2013. The BLM doesn't full know the extent of public domain, 
and that is why they are trying to do the survey. The resource 
management planning process would update the current RMPs covering this 
area, which were developed in 1994 and 1996, and establish a long-term 
plan articulating the BLM's objectives and strategies for maintaining 
the health and productivity of public lands in the region.
  As we discussed earlier, in 1923, the United States Supreme Court 
also interjected into this and set the criteria.
  We can disagree on some of these issues, but we can at least agree to 

[[Page H1157]]

our facts straight. We do know, Mr. Speaker, that this has been an 
ongoing process and this has gone back for different administrations.
  I think the question becomes: Why is it necessary to do this now? 
What is it that is happening now? They are in court. They have been in 
court. They have availed themselves of the court process. No one 
disagrees with the United States Supreme Court decision.
  So the question we should all ask ourselves is: Why now? Why take 
out, in this bill, my amendment that was rejected by the Rules 
Committee which would have eliminated that portion which says basically 
the Federal Government has no say in the survey? So why would we 
abdicate that major responsibility?
  We not only have responsibility to the tribes listed, but there are 
also different kinds of tribal lands, which we must take into account. 
So the question is: Why abdicate it?
  If as was stated earlier that what we are talking about is just a 
bill that says to the BLM to do the survey, then why does it contain 
within it a statement that says it has no right to concur or to 
  I think that it would be a different situation if this was a bill 
that said: hurry up and do your survey. But that is not what this bill 
  This bill says the States of Texas and Oklahoma will do it--actually, 
Texas will do it in consultation with Oklahoma and specific tribes.
  Why doesn't it say, if what we want is a survey, that BLM do the 
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. BISHOP of Utah. Mr. Speaker, I yield 4 minutes to the gentleman 
from California (Mr. LaMalfa), chairman of the Committee on Natural 
Resources' Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs.
  Mr. LaMALFA. Mr. Speaker, you know when we swear to uphold an oath to 
our country and to our States, a lot goes with that responsibility. We 
have a very sacred covenant in protecting private property rights, the 
cornerstone of the founding of this Nation.
  So to see that after many decades or even centuries of people feeling 
secure in their property, in their land, how can one government agency 
come along and defy two entire States in a process they have used, the 
gradient boundary survey method, in this case, along the Red River 
between Texas and Oklahoma? How can you have one rogue Federal agency 
coming in and saying we supersede what these two States and decades and 
decades of tradition and security that these families have had along 
here is completely wrong?
  That is why H.R. 428 would send the right signal and give certainty 
back to these families. We are talking about a court process. Well, for 
private parties to have to go to a court, it is not the same as the 
government with its endless resources, endless time to slog through 
court in this case after 8 years. This is a lot of wear and tear on 
families when their property and their longtime traditions are in 
question here.
  I go back to a case some years ago, the Kilo v. New London decision, 
where it was deemed that government can just take property if it was 
deemed beneficial to the government or to the tax base, indeed, 
trampling on property rights. At least, in that case, you can count on 
that there might be some compensation for having that land taken.
  Will that even happen here? They are over a mile off in some of their 
surveys where the BLM believes the land line is. So the true border 
needs to be made certain and needs to be respectful of Texas and 
Oklahoma in their process in this property right discussion.
  Indeed, an 8-year-long nightmare, imagine what this does to families. 
It happens in my district as well when regulators come in and decide 
they are going to change the water rights. It is not even good for 
their health. People, when they are going through this legal process, 
it is painful for them.
  So H.R. 428 is a very important method of doing, through the gradient 
boundary survey, a fair way--one that is recognized by Texas and 
Oklahoma for many decades as the correct way--to survey and finally put 
this issue to rest after many, many more years than what it should have 
  Indeed, private property rights are the cornerstone of part of why 
this country was even founded. Why do we continue to do this to the 
families who have, in good faith, paid taxes, made their land payments, 
and been part of the fiber of Texas and Oklahoma around the Red River 
for so many, many years?

                              {time}  1530

  Instead of confusion, let's give them certainty. I urge us to all 
support H.R. 428 and go to a survey method that is fair and recognized 
by two States, not by one Federal agency that wishes to override that 
  Ms. HANABUSA. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  It is very interesting because we seem to be confusing what is at 
issue here. If what is at issue here is a survey process, then there is 
no question. The survey process is set up in the United States Supreme 
Court decision of Oklahoma v. Texas. No one disputes that that should 
be it.
  Neither is it disputed that BLM cannot illegally claim private 
property and, in fact, it does have a process by which it can sell that 
private property.
  First, under Section 203 of FLPMA, the BLM may sell public lands for 
private fair market value if, through the planning process, the public 
land has been determined to be difficult and uneconomic to manage; the 
land was acquired for a specific purpose but no longer fulfills the 
Federal purpose; or disposal may serve important public objectives 
which cannot be achieved prudently on land other than public land.
  Under Section 206 of the FLPMA, the Secretary of the Interior can 
also conduct land exchanges of equal value with the same State so long 
as the public interest is well served.
  Mr. Speaker, the reason why there is a compact of 2000 on this 
specific issue is because the States can't do it without the 
concurrence of Congress. What is being proposed here, in terms of the 
survey, is really using a Federal standard.
  Again, the question is: Why?
  More importantly, Mr. Speaker, there are tribal lands involved; not 
only the tribes noted, but also different types of tribal lands, 
private tribal lands different from that which is held in trust by the 
Secretary of the Interior, and we are abdicating that responsibility.
  We have a fiduciary duty to these tribal lands, and it should not be 
treated basically with, well, if we don't agree, maybe we can come 
forward and say we don't agree. That is not what this is about.
  They are beginning the process. They are in mediation. The courts 
have been the mechanism by which landowners have views, and there is 
one going on. So why not let the process go?
  It just seems to be out of Congress' authority to simply abdicate the 
responsibilities that we have and say: The States can do it. And then 
we pay for it. Now, that makes no sense.
  We need to be able to say to those that we have a fiduciary 
obligation to, and others, that we have done our job; that the Federal 
Government has done its job.
  They are in the process. So the question I have again is, why now? 
Why now? This has been going on since way--I read through all the 
different treaties and the different types of cases that came up since 
1923, Oklahoma v. Texas. So why now?
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. BISHOP of Utah. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to yield 5 minutes to 
the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Gohmert), who understands this, who is 
coming from that State, and who also serves as the vice chairman of the 
entire Resources Committee.
  Mr. GOHMERT. Mr. Speaker, I am grateful to the chairman of our 
committee. I appreciate the question asked by my colleague across the 
aisle: Why now?
  The answer to the question, why now, is that this Federal Government 
has not done its job. This Congress has not done its job in complying 
with the aspirations of the Constitution.
  When you have disagreement between documents, as we did between the 
Louisiana Purchase on the south border of the Red River, and Oklahoma 
going to the middle of the Red River--and, of course, the Red River 
changes as time goes on--then the Federal Government should have long 
since stepped in and said: Here is the land we are talking about. Here 
is where the borders will actually go.

[[Page H1158]]

  I am amazed at times, we talk in terms of agencies, of bureaus, of 
departments, as if they are some independent country that deserves a 
place at the United Nations making policies and making executive 
decisions all their own.
  These people work for us. The Bureau of Land Management does have 
some folks that don't understand that. They think they are an entity 
unto themselves, and they make policy. Well, that is not what the 
Constitution set up.
  In fact, the Constitution, in the preamble, as my friends know, says: 
``We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect 
Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility. . . .''
  This is what this bill is trying to do.
  Now, last Congress, my friend, Mac Thornberry, had a bill that went 
ahead and took care of the issue, once and for all, and it was going to 
sell the land, and this dispute could be over. But since friends in the 
Senate were not able to come to a conclusion and they still just could 
not figure out what an appropriate disposition was, then my friend, Mr. 
Thornberry, has come back with this bill.
  It is consistent with what every good parent will tell the child: 
Before you make a decision, gather all the evidence and information you 
can, then make a more educated, informed decision.
  That is all this bill does, Mr. Speaker. It says, we are going to do 
a survey now. We are going to figure out what land we are talking 
about. And since the BLM has said we are not even going to even survey 
that land, we are going to leave it in dispute. We are not going to 
establish justice. We are going to worry about ``just us'' at the BLM.
  We are not going to ensure domestic tranquility. We are going to 
create chaos, because when we create chaos, then we benefit. We get 
more land, we put people in jail.
  Well, this is a simple bill, for heaven's sake. It says we are going 
to do a survey. We are going to see what we have got. That is all the 
bill does.

  Why now?
  Exactly. That is a great question. This should have been done 100 
years ago or more than 100 years ago. It wasn't, so it is time to do it 
now and ensure domestic tranquility.
  So all of the parties involved--not the BLM; they are not a party--
the Federal Government, the Government of Oklahoma, the Government of 
Texas, and all the owners involved can, once and for all, have domestic 
  Ms. HANABUSA. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  I respectfully disagree. In the year 2000, when the Red River Compact 
was approved by Congress, and because of the nature of a compact and 
because of the requirements of our United States Constitution, which I 
know my colleagues abide by, it is a different situation. This could 
have been addressed if they wanted it addressed, but that is not what 
was done.
  It is not over 100 years. We have intervening facts, like the compact 
of 2000, which afforded Congress the opportunity to look at this and, 
more importantly, the States the opportunity to decide.
  Now, what did they do?
  They disagreed on the high-water mark. They did not go into these 
specific issues. I am sure it is not something that occurred within the 
last 17 years. This is something that existed all along. So I call 
everyone's attention to the compact of 2000.
  Last year's bill, H.R. 2130, contained in there the following 
statements: The Secretary disclaims any right, title, and interest to 
the land located south of the south bank boundary line in the affected 
  It also said that surveys conducted by the Bureau of Land Management 
before the date of enactment of this act shall have no force or effect 
in determining the south bank boundary line.
  So to say that they didn't do anything--or it was being done--the law 
that was attempted to be passed, it passed out of the House. The bill 
that passed out of the House contains in it specific language that they 
are saying they don't want any of that to apply.
  So, Mr. Speaker, we come back to, I guess, why? Why? The authority to 
survey and approve or disapprove the sale or transfer of public lands 
belongs to the Federal Government acting on behalf of the American 
  The Bureau of Land Management has held the authority to examine the 
accuracy of these surveys and make revisions, when necessary and, in 
this instance, an ongoing process to make changes began in 2013. It is 
not like nothing has happened. It has been ongoing. The BLM has the 
tools and authority to resolve this survey problem, and Congress should 
just get out of the way and allow the process to play out.
  Instead, my colleagues across the aisle want to use the situation as 
an excuse to make progress on their larger goal, alienating public 
  Just last week, they voted to repeal the BLM's efforts to update 
their resource management planning process. BLM's new rule increased 
the opportunities for the public to engage in the management of public 
lands and help the agency respond more efficiently to changes taking 
place in the environment and across the landscape.
  By repealing BLM's planning rule, Republicans are ensuring that more 
disputes like Red River will develop, more public land will be lost or 
destroyed, and more litigation will ensue, all costing taxpayers more 
  So, Mr. Speaker, when we talk about H.R. 428, it is just the latest 
step in a very unpopular, anti-public lands campaign. Americans across 
the country have equal ownership and right to access and to enjoy all 
the resources. Whether it is a national park in Montana, a national 
park in Hawaii that has a volcano, forest lands in Pennsylvania, or 
wetlands in Colorado, the opportunities afforded through these 
resources belong to us all, regardless of hometown, education, means, 
or experience.
  Despite the fact that we are talking about a 160-mile stretch of the 
Red River, by cutting away at the authority and management tools 
Federal agencies have at their disposal, this bill furthers my 
colleagues across the aisle's national public lands agenda and 
threatens the multiple-use principle that governs all BLM lands, all 
while costing the taxpayers the money.
  It is like adding insult to injury. Not only do we pass a law, but we 
are also paying the States to do the survey.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. BISHOP of Utah. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Ms. HANABUSA. Mr. Speaker, how much time do I have remaining?
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentlewoman from Hawaii has 11\1/2\ 
minutes remaining.
  Ms. HANABUSA. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.
  I want to conclude by acknowledging that I have read all of the 
various statements and the cases about the property owners along the 
Red River. I do understand that providing them with certainty and 
assurance that their property rights are not threatened is a goal that 
many share.
  However, it would be unprecedented and would only further complicate 
matters to transfer the Federal survey authority over public domain to 
the States. This is not the way our public lands should be managed.
  There is a transparent, objective process to determine ownership 
along the Red River. This bill subverts that process and sends $1 
million in Federal taxpayers' money for a State purpose. This is 
neither fair nor just outcome.
  With the long, complicated history and various ownership claims along 
the Red River, BLM has to be allowed to complete its planning process 
and land survey. It also needs the right to have a say, which this 
bill, H.R. 428, eliminates that right.
  Congress should not determine the outcome of what essentially amounts 
to a three-way property dispute by conceding Federal authority to a 
State. BLM has its tools it needs. We just need to get out of the way 
and let them do their work, which they have been trying to do over the 
years; and we do know 2013 has begun the process.
  I urge my colleagues to reject the bill.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

                              {time}  1545

  Mr. BISHOP of Utah. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may 
  Now, in summary of what we have heard today, this situation is a 

[[Page H1159]]

of a silly and suspect survey that has slapped the citizens with 
uncertainty and soured them for the security because seizing citizen 
sites has taken place.
  The question was asked: Where is BLM? That is a good question. Where 
is BLM? They started this problem 8 years ago and have yet to do 
anything to try and solve the problem. That is why this bill is here 
before us because BLM has not done their job. Using a poor survey 
process, they have simply put people who have done nothing wrong in 
doubt of their ownership of their property which they have had for 
generations and have been paying taxes on for years. Yet, in 8 long 
years, BLM has done nothing to solve the situation to give them the 
certainty so they know where they stand.
  That is why the private citizens went to court. The only reason it is 
in court is because these private citizens were so frustrated with BLM 
taking so long to do something that could have been done within a 
matter of weeks, and yet it is now 8 years into a process simply 
because BLM used a flawed survey. Instead of using the gradient 
boundary survey method that the Supreme Court suggests, they did 
something else which brought them to the unusual conclusion that BLM 
actually owned 90,000 acres of land on this riverbank that they have 
never had in their history.
  Later, they realized that was an unusual claim, so they lowered it 
down to: I own 30,000 acres of land--but 30,000 acres of land that has 
been in private property for years, for generations, they have been 
paying taxes on it, and now their land is in limbo. They can't do 
anything simply because BLM has refused to do its job.
  It is not just here in Texas. Go across the State boundary to 
Louisiana where Lake Bistineau has the exact same problem with the 
exact same survey problems from the same agency, BLM. Go all the way to 
Colorado with Elkhorn Ranch. Once again, survey problems done by BLM 
which placed claims on private property that are exorbitant and yet 
moves at a snail's pace to try and solve the problem.
  One of the first issues I dealt with when I came to Congress was Hyde 
Park, and, once again, the Federal Government--this time it was the 
Forest Service--taking claim on lands that had been, for generations, 
in private property and refusing to try and work with the property 
owners to solve the problem. That is what has been going on for 8 long 
years with the boundary line between Texas and Oklahoma.
  Why are we coming here with a bill? Simply because you have got to 
solve the problem. You have got to fix the problem for people.
  I have to also say something. The misrepresentation of the BLM 
planning rule that was presented is a total misrepresentation. In fact, 
when we removed that rule, the 2.0 planning rule, we did it because 
people want to have their voices heard and are eliminated if that 
planning rule goes into effect. That is why it has to stop, so this 
type of situation does not happen again.
  Some people have said this may be an unprecedented concept. Actually, 
our realization that somebody has to handle the situation by actually 
allowing Oklahoma and Texas to pick qualified surveyors, do the 
survey--and do the survey--and then coordinate with the tribes so they 
come up with a process, that is exactly what should have happened in 
2009. Because BLM didn't do it, we are going to bring a bill to make 
sure they actually get something done.
  This has been supported by the Texas and Oklahoma Farm Bureaus, the 
Texas General Land Office, Texas Southwest Cattle Raisers Association, 
and the people who live in this area who want to have some kind of 
conclusion so they can have their property rights respected.
  Now, it has been said what we are doing is unprecedented--perhaps. 
What we are doing is trying to solve the problem to help people; and if 
it takes an unprecedented action by Congress to solve people's problem 
and let them move on with their lives, then that is the responsibility 
of Congress. We are the ones who establish what the policies should be, 
not some executive branch agency of government. It is our 
  We are doing exactly what the people expect us to do by saying 8 
years of unexpected and unanswered questions is far too long. Solve the 
problem and help people so they know what is their private property and 
what is not their private property and they can move on with their 
lives. If that is unprecedented, then it is about time we did something 
that is unprecedented. That is important.
  That is why this bill is here, and that is why this bill is here now. 
It is coming at the beginning of the session because we cannot wait 
longer for the BLM to actually do what they should have done in 2009.
  Now, Mr. Speaker, I want you to realize we are here on Valentine's 
Day. There is nothing special about that, but this is an issue where 
there has been no love lost. In fact, the landowners along this river 
have been simply soaked. But deep in the heart of Texas--all right, I 
know it is a boundary line, but I have got to get the heart in there 
some way. Deep in the heart of Texas, we are coming forth with a bill 
that is showing that the love for people who have paid their taxes and 
lived on this land for generations is not forgotten and that BLM has 
committed a crime of the heart with this land grab.
  Indeed, Chairman Thornberry has passionately defended the interests 
of his constituents who just want to know the government loves them. 
That is why this bill is here. That is why it needs to be supported, 
and that is why I urge you to vote ``yes.''
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. All time for debate has expired.
  Pursuant to House Resolution 99, the previous question is ordered on 
the bill.
  The question is on the engrossment and third reading of the bill.
  The bill was ordered to be engrossed and read a third time, and was 
read the third time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the passage of the bill.
  The question was taken; and the Speaker pro tempore announced that 
the ayes appeared to have it.
  Ms. HANABUSA. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, further 
proceedings on this question will be postponed.