July 10, 2014

UPDATE: Bipartisan sportsmen's bill
suffers serious setback in Senate


The Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act suffered a serious, perhaps fatal, setback in the Senate this morning when it failed to win the 60 votes needed to move forward.

The bill, which now has more than 100 amendments, including one which is identical to a Senate bill, S 486, which would modify the National Park Service's ORV plan and final rule for the Cape Hatteras National Seashore that became effective in February 2012.

That amendment, introduced Tuesday by U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., would set rules and parameters for the Park Service to follow when it considers limiting public access to beaches, including off-road vehicle access.

The sportsmen's bill, S 2363, was introduced in May by U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and has bipartisan support from 43 co-sponsors.

Today, the bill, which would expand hunting on public lands, "succumbed to political gridlock today, failing to win the 60 votes needed to move forward in the Senate," according to an article in E&E, which covers environmental and energy policy issues.

Most published accounts refer to the sportsmen's bill as a popular bill that was a "win-win" for Republicans and Democrats. However, E&E reports, "it could not overcome an ongoing fight between Democrats and Republicans over the amendment process."

E&E (http://www.eenews.net/) also reports:

"A cloture vote to end debate on the bill failed today, 41-56, with 11 Democrats joining all Republicans to shut the bill down. Among the 'no' votes: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who had drafted the bill with Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.).

"The bill's death was all but guaranteed yesterday when Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) "filled the amendment tree," blocking unwanted amendments from coming to the floor. That angered Republicans, who wanted to force politically tough votes on a slew of amendments, including ones on gun rights and environmental regulation.

"The bill's failure is a blow to Hagan, who faces a tough re-election bid. The act was seen as a potential boon to endangered Democrats, proving their moderate views with the expansion of hunting, fishing and shooting opportunities on public lands."

Among the more controversial amendments were Sen. John Barrasso's (R-Wyo.) effort to prevent U.S. EPA from finishing its Clean Water Act jurisdiction proposal and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) amendment to ensure gun access on Army Corps of Engineers land.

In a statement today, Hagan said:

“I worked with Senator Murkowski to craft a package of bills that would garner strong support within the Senate in addition to a wide range of stakeholders, and the fact that this bill is cosponsored by 44 other Senators from both parties speaks to the overwhelming support for the policies in the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014. I believe the Senate should have considered sportsmen-related amendments, including those dealing with gun issues important to sportsmen and women, and I am disappointed that politics prevented us from reaching an agreement this week. 

"However, I will continue working with Senator Murkowski and my colleagues to find a path forward so that this bill that benefits hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts in North Carolina and across the nation doesn’t fall victim to political posturing.”

"It is true that the vote for cloture on S 2363 failed today," David Scarborough of the Outer Banks Preservation Association said today in an e-mail.  "But do not give up hope.  S 2363 and the amendments, such as ours, are still on the table.  It remains to be seen if they will be brought back up for cloture and eventual vote on the Senate floor in the future, but we should all continue to call ours Senators, Reid, Murkowski, etc. to urge them to work out a compromise and move forward.  S2363 may never see the light of day again, but it is still our best shot at success for this year."

Click here to read the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2014.
Click here to read S 486 on modifying the Park Service's ORV plan.

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