Senate Sabotaging Sportsmen’s Act, Hope for a 2012 Farm Bill
I’ve spent the majority of the week in Washington, D.C. working on a variety of our conservation priorities; including the Sportsmen’s Act, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and of course the federal Farm Bill.
A few weeks ago, I watched an episode of the television news program 60 minutes focused on our political leaders’ desire to return to the statesmanship and bi-partisan cooperation of a bi-gone era. I watched those Senators on camera and felt a renewed sense of hope. This week’s visit to our nation’s capital made it clear those intentions were nothing more than a political façade.
This bill is an incredible compilation of hunter’s favorites in need of Congressional action. It contains habitat programs like the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, the Fish & Wildlife Service’s Partners Program, and a host of other policies that would provide wildlife habitat and public hunting access.
Leading up to this week’s debate, the bill enjoyed the support of virtually every single hunting and wildlife conservation organization in the country; organizations representing millions of Americans. The measure garnered strong bi-partisan support during early procedural votes to move the measure forward through Congress. Yet, in the final hours, one single Senator raising a budget point of order brought the entire package down leaving it smoldering like a burned South Dakota cattail slough.
The point of order Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions raised focused on an increase to the price of the Federal Duck Stamp – a measure we support along with our friends at Ducks Unlimited and Delta Waterfowl. The federal duck stamp has been an incredibly successful program in place since the ‘30’s and is desperately in need of additional revenues to keep pace with skyrocketing land prices. The proposed increase in revenues from the wallets of willing waterfowlers and wetlands enthusiasts provided the ridiculously miniscule technicality allowing Senator Sessions to derail the entire bill. Last minute attempts to resolve the revenue issue by Senator Jon Tester working across the aisle with others including Senator John Thune using Thune’s sodsaver provision savings proved too little too late. Even with resolution at this point Senator Boxer was prepared to intervene as well – all of this coming after nearly unanimous votes of 84 and 92 supporting passage.
Several of our favorite Farm bill conservation programs remain closed to enrollment, pending action by Congress as well. Leadership from both the Senate and House Agriculture Committees continue to press for pathways to complete action on the full five-year bill that has passed the full Senate and House Committee. Several options remain possible including attaching the measure to end of the year legislation related to the fiscal cliff or extension of existing law for a shorter term. House leadership offices have indicated that the measure will be acted upon in some fashion.
Call on your elected Representative and both of your Senators right now. Tell them to get it done on the Sportsmen’s Act, tell them to get it done on a comprehensive five-year farm bill, and most of all tell them to get it done on the fiscal cliff. It’s time to forgo actions based upon an R or D behind names and to act together as Americans. Help us urge Congress to expedite actions before the lame duck session ends.
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