The TRCP’s scouting report on sportsmen’s issues in Congress
The Senate will be in session Monday through Friday. The House will be in session from Monday through Thursday.
A House divided over finances is nothing new. House GOP leadership had planned to hold floor votes on a fiscal year 2017 budget in early March, but an intra-party squabble—between those who want to stick with the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 agreement and those who want a new budget with deeper cuts—seems to be preventing lawmakers from moving forward. Any attempt at additional cuts could threaten spending levels for sportsmen’s access and programs that conserve and restore fish and wildlife habitat. Many members of the TRCP Policy Council are going on the record this week to encourage Congress to adhere to the budget agreement struck in October 2015.
Weeks ago, the fate of the bipartisan Senate Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 was inextricably linked to the drinking water crisis in Flint, Mich., as several Senators insisted that energy legislation could not move forward without an aid package included. Now, many in the upper chamber have publicly indicated that an agreement on Flint has emerged, though the path forward for the energy bill is still unclear. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (ENR), and lead author of the Energy Policy Modernization Act, has pledged to keep working to move the legislation to the Senate floor, where she remains confident it could be passed rapidly, along with a short list of amendments.
One of those amendments just might be a portion of the Senate Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act that recently passed out of the ENR Committee. That portion of the bill includes some key provisions, such as Making Public Lands Public and reauthorization of the Federal Land Transfer Facilitation Act, but doesn’t include important conservation reauthorizations like the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the Fish Habitat Conservation Act, which are included in the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee portfolio. If the ENR-only portion moves forward, sportsmen’s groups will have to devise a strategy for getting the EPW provisions over the finish line.
And ICYMI, the Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Act passed the House in a 242 to 161 bipartisan vote. This legislation would promote and enhance sportsmen’s access to hunting, fishing and recreational shooting areas. If the Senate energy bill is amended to include Sportsmen’s Act provisions, it is possible that the House-Senate energy bill conference could also serve as the conference on the Sportsmen’s Act. Read more about the SHARE Act here.
What We’re Tracking
Conservation funding, as budget requests are examined for the Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Department of Energy, and Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
International fisheries management, in a House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans hearing regarding the Ensuring Access to Pacific Fisheries Act
Voluntary conservation efforts, to be discussed in a House Agriculture Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry hearing regarding technology and innovation
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Invasive species and coastal restoration, to be taken up by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. They will mark up legislation for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, plus a bill that would deal with oil spills from foreign offshore facilities.
Renewable energy, in a House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development hearing on technology, renewable energy, and climate change funds for Fiscal Year 2017
Coal mine cleanups, in a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing
Thursday, March 3, 2016
Federal fisheries management and small businesses will be discussed by the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee in a hearing