Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke testifies during the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the proposed fiscal year 2018 budget request for the Interior Department on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 20. (Michael Reynolds/European Pressphoto Agency)

While Americans were distracted by the promised horrors of the GOP’s secret health-care bill, the president was continuing his quiet assault on our public lands, this time through eviscerating budget cuts [“At Senate hearing, Zinke defends $1.6 billion cuts at Interior Dept.,” news, June 21]. Applauded, as ever, by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the new “plan” is to compensate for the proposed cuts by opening up our pristine lands to oil and gas exploration. Dr. Seuss proves to be a visionary indeed, as these are Lorax moments if ever we’ve seen them.

To add insult to injury, our president also proposes a devastating $370 million cut to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, in the tradition of his proclaimed hero, Andrew Jackson. A year ago, the country was discussing the removal of Jackson from the $20 bill, in acknowledgment of his cruel and shameful Native American policies; now, President Trump has dusted off Jackson’s portrait and hung it in the Oval Office, to be looked to, presumably, for daily inspiration! O Hamlet, what a falling off was there!

Rosemary Donaldson, Falls Church

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s proposal to remove 4,000 employees is probably smart. Why pay people to safeguard our national heritage when you’re planning to give big chunks of it away?

Many of the cuts would come in the National Park Service and the Bureau of Land Management. The Bureau of Indian Education would see a 12 percent reduction, and social service and welfare programs for Native Americans would see a $23.3 million reduction.

This affects us all, but especially Native Americans. American Indians have been dealing with “forked tongues” for more than 300 years. Crooked politicians, speculators, extraction specialists, et al. I doubt that this experience will be of much help in dealing with this administration and this Congress. Every effort will be made to convince the American public that they asked for it.

Charles W. Pickett, Upper Marlboro