The TRCP’s scouting report on sportsmen’s issues in Congress.
The Senate and House are not in session this week.
The week off marks an uncomfortable interlude. Last week ended with turmoil in the House of Representatives when Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) withdrew from the Speaker of the House candidacy pool. As a result, Speaker Boehner has indicated he will now stay on until a replacement has been found. Until then, it’s back to the drawing board for GOP members, since Congressmen Paul Ryan and Trey Gowdy continue to refuse the promotion, despite their party’s encouragement. Rep. Ryan, in particular, is under intense pressure to reconsider his decision and run for the speakership.
The turmoil in the House significantly complicates efforts from Senate Majority Leader McConnell and the President to reach a budget deal that would set funding levels through 2016, maintain the solvency of the highway trust fund, and raise the debt ceiling before November 5. With Boehner’s lame-duck status and no agreed-upon successor, it is unclear whether or not Boehner can corral his restive caucus into supporting a budget deal in the time remaining. It certainly looks like McCarthy’s withdrawal from the Speaker’s race slightly increases the odds of a government shutdown when the current CR expires on December 11.
Here’s the latest roadblock for clean water protection—and it’s a doozy
This morning, a federal appeals court temporarily put implementation of the clean water rule on hold in all 50 states. Here’s our take.
“The court’s decision is obviously disappointing,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “It sends us back to the confused implementation of the Clean Water Act that existed before the rule. What’s more, putting the rule on hold nationwide ignores the wishes of the seven states, and the District of Columbia, that have asked the court to support the new rule and the clean water protections it affords. Regardless, today’s ruling is only preliminary, and the court acknowledges the need for a new rule and the rigorous, science-based process the EPA and the Corps has used to write one. Sportsmen and women across the nation remain steadfast in our support of better clean water protections and are confident that, when the dust settles in the courts, the clean water rule will withstand challengers claiming that it protects our water too much.”
House Committee Passes Legislation to Improve Sportsmen’s Access
The House Committee on Natural Resources has passed the “Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act of 2015,” or SHARE Act (H.R. 2406), comprised of several provisions aimed at increasing opportunities for hunters, anglers, and recreational shooters. The legislation was introduced earlier this year by the bipartisan leadership of the House Sportsmen’s Caucus: Rep. Robert Wittman (R-Va.), Tim Walz (D-Minn.), Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), and Gene Green (D-Texas).
“At a time when lack of access is one of the greatest barriers for hunter and angler recruitment and retention, we’re anxious to see a comprehensive and bipartisan sportsmen’s package advance to the President’s desk. Today’s action by the Natural Resources Committee is an important first step in that process,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “It is critical to support improvements to public access, while also working to strengthen our investment in conservation—because access means nothing without healthy fish, wildlife, and habitat.”
When I was a young boy and my grandfather first introduced me to hunting, I didn’t have a clue what it took to create and maintain the amazing opportunities I was enjoying in the outdoors. But I developed a passion and connection to wildlife and America’s wild places that will last a lifetime. Fast forward 25 years and we are at a pivotal point in history: It has never been more important to stand up and protect what sportsmen and women know to be immensely valuable—
our public lands, fish and wildlife habitat, and access to great hunting and fishing. The challenge, though, is that a great portion of our population has never had the opportunity to connect with wildlife and nature the way we have. So, it is up to us to spread the message that, as Theodore Roosevelt said, “There can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country.”
And the country may be primed to hear our message. Members of the locavore movement, creators of sustainability initiatives, and a generation of environmentally aware youth can and should stand with the conservation groups that have been working for years to ensure healthy ecosystems and balanced wildlife populations.
This opportunity is one of many reasons that we at SITKA Gear are excited to announce our Founding Membership in a brand new organization—One Percent for Conservation (OPC), which was created to support and encourage businesses to give back to conservation. By simply committing to give back one percent of sales each year, we believe we can make a difference. But we cannot do it alone. OPC is asking the industry to come together in this movement, because one percent from thousands of businesses adds up to a really big impact on the future of conservation.
You can help us by encouraging your favorite brands to contribute one percent. Any business owner that understands the value of conservation will probably listen. For more information, follow One Percent for Conservation on Facebook or visit the website.
And, because you are part of the community of sportsmen who give back to conservation by supporting the TRCP, SITKA Gear is giving you 40 percent off a special edition of our new Ballistic Vest. Purchase one before October 16, then get out in the field and give 110 percent on your next hunt knowing that you’re blazing a trail of conservation.
The TRCP’s scouting report on sportsmen’s issues in Congress.
The Senate will be in session Monday through Friday. The House will begin legislative business on Tuesday and wrap up on Friday.
Congress narrowly avoided a government shutdown last week by clearing a “clean” short-term continuing resolution which funds the government until December 11. (Read our thoughts on that.) The CR also repays the U.S. Forest Service $700 million in emergency funds for dollars that had been borrowed for fire suppression costs—that’s the first time Congress has repaid borrowed funds since 2009. The CR did not address a permanent fix for fire borrowing, nor did it reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which expired on October 1. Lawmakers are already working this week to reauthorize the program and maintain its connection to funding through offshore oil and gas royalties.
Outgoing Speaker John Boehner announced the election for Speaker of the House will be held on Thursday, October 8, with Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) the odds-on favorite to win. If McCarthy is elected, the race for Majority Leader is expected to be contentious and competitive. Before Boehner steps down from his post and resigns from Congress permanently, he will likely seek to work with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to consider a way forward on a multi-year bipartisan budget deal effective through the November 2016 elections, plus a long-term highway bill and a deal to raise the nation’s debt limit prior to the November 5 default deadline. The run-up to the end of the year promises to be exciting under the Capitol dome.
The Senate gaveled in today at 4 p.m. to consider the NDAA conference report, which we are glad to report does not contain any language that would derail greater sage grouse conservation efforts. On Tuesday, the House will begin consideration of Rep. Barton’s (R-TX) H.R. 702 that lifts the export ban on crude oil, Rep. Hill’s (R-AR) H.R. 3192 to regulate mortgage loans for homebuyers, and consider Rep. Young’s (R-AK) H.R. 538 that would reduce federal regulations on Indian lands.
What We’re Tracking
Access to public lands, to be discussed in a House Natural Resources Committee mark-up of Rep. Wittman’s (R-VA) H.R. 2406, the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act of 2015. Date of this mark-up hearing is TBD.