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The TRCP’s scouting report on sportsmen’s issues in Congress.
The Senate will be in session Monday through Friday. The House will conduct legislative business Monday through Thursday.
The election for Speaker of the House will occur on secret ballots within the Republican caucus on Wednesday of this week, and the (recorded) floor vote will occur the following day. House Ways and Means Chairman and 2012 GOP Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan (R-WI) appears to have the votes to become the next Speaker, although he will immediately find out just how difficult the job will be, as key deadlines loom on a debt ceiling deal, an extension of the highway trust fund, and a long-term budget agreement. His ascendance has already kick-started a fight between Pat Tiberi of Ohio and Kevin Brady of Texas for the powerful Ways and Means gavel.
Last week, House GOP leadership had to pull a deal to pair a debt-ceiling increase with conservative reforms, because it lacked the votes for passage, even in the House. Senate Majority Leader McConnell has said that “the House should go first” on the debt ceiling, which runs out on November 3, but the path forward is unclear. Many in the Senate have a growing sense that, if the House doesn’t move soon on a deal, the Senate will indeed have to take the lead. Both chambers have reserved floor time this week for consideration of a deal. The President has threatened to veto any debt ceiling bill that includes spending cuts.
Last week, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved a bipartisan transportation bill through the next six years, but with the Highway Trust Fund—reminder: that’s funded by the federal tax on gasoline at the pump—set to expire this Thursday, there is no time to negotiate between the House T&I bill and the long-term bill that the Senate passed in July. A short-term patch of the Highway Trust Fund is expected later this week.
And ICYMI, President Obama kept his word and vetoed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last week. The NDAA was sent back to Congress with the President’s clear message of disapproval due to “irresponsible” spending caps. The pressure for a budget deal that raises sequester caps and increases funding for things like key conservation programs is certainly growing in advance of the December 11 deadline. This promises to be a very real test for the new Speaker of the House.
Obama also urged Congress to reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund in his weekly address on Saturday. Watch the clip below.
What We’re Tracking
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Stream protection, in a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation, and Enforcement hearing on the proposed rule
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Public lands, to be discussed in a House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands hearing regarding the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Modernization Act of 2015
Legislation on projects related to public lands, water, and tribes, the subject of a House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans hearing
Every year on October 24, on “Food Day,” members of the American public, food and farm activists, and chefs come together to celebrate and enjoy real food and to push for improved food policies. In 2015, Food Day has the theme “Toward a Greener Diet”—the organizers hope we’ll all resolve to make changes in our own diets, and take action to solve food-related environmental problems.
In many ways, this is a terrific cause. Food Day rightly recognizes that “eating real” can improve your health and the environment.
But we also doubt the Food Day organizers spend much time thinking about, let alone thanking, the 40 million hunters and anglers in this country who feed their families with a harvest not just from the farm, but from forest, field, and stream.
Because of our unique relationship with the land and the species which live upon it, America’s sportsmen are this country’s first and foremost conservationists, paying millions each year to protect public lands and clean our waters. Sportsmen advocate for agriculture policies like CRP, which provide safety nets both for farmers and for the wildlife that live on the edges of farms. And today, when the average American wastes more than 20 pounds of edible food each month, sportsmen stand apart in their commitment to using the whole animal. True sportsmen waste nothing.
There are many important issues around food in this country that hunters and anglers can’t solve, such as childhood hunger, or poor working conditions for food and farm workers. But on Food Day 2015, when the food movement pledges to move “Toward a Greener Diet,” we hope you’ll join us in thanking the American sportsman for leading the way.
In honor of moving toward a greener diet, living off the land, and wasting nothing, we’re pleased to share a recipe from our friend Steven Rinella. He writes that the recipe “calls for a skinned-out deer’s head to be buried beneath the coals of a fire, which is fun, rugged and surprisingly effective. The meat comes off the bone easily, and it’s super succulent. You can eat it with nothing but salt, but it’s even better when you use it to build a taco…It makes a perfect hunter’s snack, and your friends will never forget it.”
Big Sky Roasted Head
Build a big fire and let it burn vigorously for a good 45-60 minutes in order to build up a strong bed of coals. Really let it rip. You can use about any wood, but a dense hardwood will produce hotter, longer-lasting coals. An ideal choice would be mesquite, but oak is also great. While the fire is burning, you can prep your head.
Salt and pepper the head heavily and triple-or quadruple-wrap it in foil. Take a burlap or game bag and soak it in a creek or with a hose until it’s fully saturated with water. Wrap your foil-covered head tightly in the wet burlap or game bag to make a neat package.
When a good crop of coals has collected, use a spade to scrape out a trench in the center of your fire, deep enough and large enough around for your venison head. Put about a gallon of coals in the hole. Cover it with 3 inches of dirt. Then set the head in the trench. Cover the head with another 3 inches of dirt and build the fire back on top of the head. Cooking time may vary from fire to fire, but in general 3-4 hours is a pretty good amount of time to let it cook.
Pull the roasted head out with a spade and put it on a stone to cool down. If you’re concerned, insert an instant-read thermometer through the foil and into the flesh in the head (aiming for the brain is a good idea). It should be at least 160 degrees. 170-180 is ideal. Unwrap the burlap and the foil. Don’t remove the meat from the head until it has rested 10-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, wrap the corn tortillas in foil and warm on the dying embers.
Being shredding the meat. There’s all kinds of good stuff on the head, particularly the tongue and the jowl meat, which tastes a bit like pulled pork. And it’s easy to remove with a knife and fork. Season the meat with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lime juice. And then get your fixings ready.
Assemble the tacos, crack open some beers, and check out the stars. You’ve earned it.
Guest blog by Rep. Garret Graves, Louisiana’s 6th District.
Hunting and fishing is part of life in Louisiana—it’s woven into the fabric of who we are. “Sportsman’s Paradise” is home to the most productive ecosystem in North America. In fact, the entire Gulf of Mexico region is blessed with a rich heritage and an enduring economy built on the bounty of the great outdoors. This area produces up to one-third of the wild seafood harvest in the continental United States and is the top source of shrimp, blue crabs, crawfish, and oysters in the nation. And even in the wake of devastating hurricanes and man-made catastrophes, like the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Gulf coastal communities continue to survive and succeed, thanks in large part to recreational and commercial fishing activity and the resiliency of our residents.
Natural nor manmade disaster could not cripple the fishing heritage of the Gulf South, but poor federal management of red snapper is taking its toll on this aspect of our fishing culture. Recreational red snapper seasons in federal waters have never been shorter, and management disputes between stakeholder groups at the federally-guided Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Management Council have never been so contentious. At the heart of the problem lies a management regime that is a complete failure and federal government science that fails to paint an accurate picture of the fishery.
Federal fisheries management has been very successful at limiting foreign commercial fishing pressure and curtailing overharvest by America’s commercial fisheries, but it has largely failed to recognize the cultural and economic importance of recreational fishing. That failure has led to the current red snapper quandary in the Gulf, through which recreational seasons are being shortened, because according to NOAA, there are abundant snapper that are too easy to catch.
That’s right. The federal seasons are shorter now than ever before, not because there are so few fish but because there are so many. It makes no sense. It also makes very little sense for NOAA and the Gulf Council to continue to band-aid a fundamentally flawed management approach by pushing efforts to restrict recreational access to public fisheries resources and enact management schemes that a majority of residents across the Gulf have very clearly said they don’t want.
I had the opportunity to fish for red snapper this summer in federal waters less than 12 miles off Louisiana’s coast. At every reef and oil rig we fished we easily caught snapper after snapper. I was lucky to have been in Louisiana during the absurdly-short, 10-day season. Had I been there three days later, I would not have been able to fish those same waters.
I have talked to anglers, tackle and boat dealers, marina owners, and state fisheries managers, as have many of my Gulf Congressional colleagues, about how to remedy perplexing federal management. A straightforward solution they have all recommended is to let state agencies—the folks with long track records of successful management of both recreational and commercial fishing and who are closest to the fishery day in and day out—manage red snapper, as well.
That is why I introduced a bipartisan solution: H.R. 3094, “The Gulf States Red Snapper Management Authority Act.” States are in a position to immediately put into practice management approaches that correct federal missteps and use the best available science and data to conservatively manage this iconic Gulf fish.
This new authority would allow each state to work with anglers and charter captains to tailor fishing seasons and management efforts that work best. If anglers in Louisiana want to fish primarily on weekends, state management could be crafted to fit that. If Florida’s and Texas’s large party boat fleets want to be able to take as many spring break and summer vacation tourists as possible, management can allow that without it having potentially detrimental effects on Louisiana and Mississippi charter operations that take smaller groups throughout the year. And these nuanced approaches can be allowed, while continuing current commercial management, allowing fresh snapper to be served at restaurants across the Gulf.
While federal snapper management continues to push restricted access and contentious, overly-bureaucratic approaches, the states are working to gather better data and increase recreational fishing opportunities by successfully managing for consistent seasons and abundant fisheries. State and regional management approaches have been successfully implemented with the Alaskan salmon, the Dungeness crab on the West Coast, and the Atlantic striped bass on the East Coast. It’s time that the Gulf States were given the chance to succeed at red snapper management, as well.
Today, HR 3094 will be the subject of a House Natural Resources Subcommittee Hearing. This is an opportunity to harness the Gulf State agencies’ expertise to improve access for the enormous recreational fishing community in South Louisiana and the Gulf South, while sustainably managing our fisheries. I’m looking forward to the chance to explain how we can adopt a species management model that is sustainable and fair.
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.
House members return to D.C. after last week’s recess to find the chamber in the same state they left it—yep, that would be chaotic. Potential Republican candidates for Speaker are holding their breath as they wait for Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) to decide if he should throw his hat into the ring. The latest intel from Capitol Hill indicates that if Ryan does run, he will do so only with the unanimous support of the Republican caucus, something he is unlikely to achieve. Should Ryan decline to run, it would kick off a free-for-all fight for the Speaker’s gavel, with no obvious leader emerging.
In the meantime, Congress is facing expiration of the Highway Trust Fund (October 29), the debt limit (November 3), and the short-term funding agreement keeping the government afloat (December 11). Speaker Boehner, with an apparently willing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, seems poised to attempt to address these issues in the remaining days at the helm of the House, which will consider three piece of legislation on the floor this week, including Rep. McClintock’s (R-CA) H.R. 692 bill to prevents a default in the debt limit.
Shifting to legislation that has already been allowed to expire: The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) may be in limbo, but it continues to influence major policy issues. Senator Hoeven (R-ND) has proposed connecting the reauthorization and full funding of LWCF with the lifting of the crude oil export ban, while Senators Burr (R-NC) and Ayotte (R-NH) have placed a hold on Senate consideration of the TOSCA reform bill in an attempt to get a floor vote on an LWCF reauthorization amendment. At least it’ll be worth watching the Hill between now and Thanksgiving.
What We’re Tracking:
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Nominations for key decision-making positions in DOI and energy, to be discussed by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
EPA regulations, in a Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight hearing
Opportunities for Good Samaritan mine cleanups, to be considered in a House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment hearing. Learn about the existing red tape for well-meaning groups that would like to take on mine cleanups, here.
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Gulf Coast red snapper management, to be discussed in a House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans hearing regarding H.R. 3094
Ozone standards, in a House Science, Space and Technology hearing
Wastewater treatment, in a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy hearing regarding Senator Roger’s (R-MS) S. 611
In the last two years, policymakers have committed to significant investments in conservation, infrastructure, and reversing climate change. Hunters and anglers continue to be vocal about the opportunity to create conservation jobs, restore habitat, and boost fish and wildlife populations. Support solutions now.Learn More