Ohio lawmakers are expressing disappointment at President Barack Obama’s move to rename Mt. McKinley, seeing it as another instance of his executive overreach.
“The naming of the mountain has been a topic of discussion in Congress for many years. This decision by the Administration is yet another example of the President going around Congress,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) wrote on Facebook in reaction to the decision.
Sunday evening the White House revealed that during his three-day visit to Alaska this week Obama will be announcing that his administration is stripping former Republican President William McKinley’s name from North America’s highest peak and renaming it Denali.
“The President will also announce that the Federal Government has officially restored the Koyukon Athabascan name of Denali to the tallest mountain in North America, previously known as Mt. McKinley,” the White House explained in a release. “This designation recognizes the sacred status of Denali to generations of Alaska Natives.”
The mountain has carried McKinley’s name for about a century. As a son of Ohio, Ohio lawmakers expressed particular consternation at the administration’s decision. Portman, for example called on the Obama administration to work with him to honor McKinley in another way.
House Speaker John Boehner highlighted McKinley’s legacy as the reason for honoring his name on North America’s highest peak.
“McKinley served our country with distinction during the Civil War as a member of the Army,” Boehner (R-OH) said in a statement. “He made a difference for his constituents and his state as a member of the House of Representatives and as Governor of the great state of Ohio. And he led this nation to prosperity and victory in the Spanish-American War as the 25th President of the United States.”
“I’m deeply disappointed in this decision,” he added.
Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH) argued that since an act of Congress established the peak’s name as Mt. McKinley the mountain’s name cannot be altered without additional legislation.
“President McKinley is a well respected American hero who deserves to be honored and I hope my colleagues will join with me in stopping this constitutional overreach,” Gibbs said in a statement. “President Obama has decided to ignore an act of Congress in unilaterally renaming Mt. McKinley in order to promote his job-killing war on energy.”
“This political stunt is insulting to all Ohioans, and I will be working with the House Committee on Natural resources to determine what can be done to prevent this action,” he concluded.
While Ohioans sounded a disappointed note, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who has been pushing for a name change in Congress, welcomed the announcement and Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) tweeted picture of “Denali” in support.
“For centuries, Alaskans have known this majestic mountain as the ‘Great One,”’ Murkowski said in a statement. “Today we are honored to be able to officially recognize the mountain as Denali. I’d like to thank the President for working with us to achieve this significant change to show honor, respect, and gratitude to the Athabascan people of Alaska.”
Murkowski, Governor Bill Walker, Lt. Governor Byron Mallot and Native American leaders are slated to meet with Obama in Alaska Monday.