GOP Senator: Mt. McKinley Another Example of Obama ‘Going Around Congress’

Sen. Rob Portman
Sen. Rob Portman / AP
August 31, 2015

Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) slammed Barack Obama’s decision to allow the renaming of Mt. McKinley in Alaska as another instance of the president acting without approval from Congress.

"I’m disappointed with the administration’s decision to change the name of Mt. McKinley in Alaska," Portman wrote in a Facebook post. "This decision by the administration is yet another example of the president going around Congress."

In timing with Obama’s trip to Alaska, the White House announced Sunday that the president had granted Interior Secretary Sally Jewell approval to officially rename the peak with the Athabaskan word Denali, meaning "the high one."

The mountain has honored the 25th U.S. President William McKinley, an Ohio native and a Republican, since 1901, when the U.S. Board on Geographic Names acknowledged the name change. While Alaska officially changed its name within the state in 1975, it has since petitioned for the name change to be reflected by the U.S. board. The request has been pending until now.

While Congress has debated the name of the mountain--Sen. Lisa Murkowski, (R., Alaska) introduced a bill to change the name this year--lawmakers have never made a decision to switch the peak’s moniker.

Portman called on the Obama administration to work with him to "find alternative ways to preserve McKinley’s legacy" in the national park in Alaska that was likewise stripped of the former president’s name and renamed Denali in 1980.

Portman is one of multiple Ohio lawmakers voicing their disapproval of Obama’s decision. House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) described himself as "deeply disappointed" by the move, while Rep. Bob Gibbs (R., Ohio) called it a "political stunt."

"President Obama has chosen to ignore an act of Congress in unilaterally renaming Mt. McKinley in order to promote his job-killing war on energy," Gibbs said in a statement. "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."

Obama will officially rename the mountain during his time in Alaska this week, though his trip is focused on his campaign to warn about climate change.