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Originally published Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 10:47 AM

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Letter questions retroactive timber-payment cuts

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings and another 30 members of Congress have sent a letter to the Obama Administration, asking why it is demanding timber counties send back roughly $18 million in federal subsidies.

The Associated Press

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PORTLAND, Ore. —

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings and another 30 members of Congress have sent a letter to the Obama Administration, asking why it is demanding timber counties send back roughly $18 million in federal subsidies.

The Agriculture Department distributed $323 million to 41 states in January as part of the Secure Rural Schools program, which helps timber counties make up for revenue lost when national forests cut back logging to protect wildlife.

But the administration recently said the payments are subject to the sequester, and states must return a portion of the money.

In his letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Hastings, a Washington Republican, says the move is an "obvious attempt" to make the sequester as painful as possible and asks for the repayments to be halted.

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