National Policy Updates

The House convened on Jan. 3 with the start of the 117th Congress and re-election of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as Speaker of the House with a 216-209 vote. The chamber adopted new rules, including language in the House package that would waive pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rules—no requirements to find a budgetary offset—for coronavirus relief and climate change-related provisions.

After Sens. Raphael Warnock (D) and Jon Ossoff (D) won the Senate races in Georgia and were sworn in, the Democratic party won the Senate with a 50-50 party split and Vice President Kamala Harris being the tiebreaker vote. VP Harris presides over the Senate and is authorized to vote on nominations and legislation as needed. Because of this split, the rules for sharing authority—floor procedures, like filibuster rules, and committee organization, such as membership representation—in the Senate are currently being negotiated by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Inauguration

This year started with heartbreaking events unfolding on the steps of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. On Jan. 20, President Biden ascended these same steps and overlooked the national mall as he was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States.

President Biden has an ambitious environmental agenda that could lead to restoring bedrock conservation laws that were dismantled over the last four years, including the 2015 Clean Water Rule that protected wetlands and headwaters streams, provided Americans with clean drinking water and healthy habitat for fish and wildlife. A press release summarizing high level agency review actions was released just prior to the President taking office.

BHA looks forward to advancing our policy priorities and providing the new administration with recommendations that support North America’s hunters, anglers, public lands, waters and wildlife.

Alaska’s Arctic

Alaska's 19.3-million-acre Arctic National Wildlife Refuge represents the last frontier in wild, backcountry lands and waters. The refuge feeds our dreams of the wild, offering sportsmen the opportunity to hunt and fish vast tracts of wild country on a scale incomparable to anything found in the lower 48.

On Jan. 6, the Trump administration hosted an auction on the oil and gas lease sale in 22 tracts of the Arctic Refuge’s coastal plain. While interest from the industry was largely absent, the administration officially finalized leases for those that did bid (primarily an entity established by the state of Alaska) that cover about 440,000 acres on Jan. 19. The Biden administration announced a moratorium on all oil and gas activities in the Refuge on Jan. 20, setting the stage for what will be a more involved process to create long-term safeguards for the fish and wildlife in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

This does not mean the fight to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is over. BHA plans to work closely with the Biden administration and Congress to protect the Refuge for the next four years and beyond.

DOI, USDA and EPA Nominations

President Biden has nominated many officials to fill his cabinet, and BHA is particularly interested in three: Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) as secretary for the Department of the Interior, Tom Vilsack as secretary for Agriculture and Michael Regan to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. BHA supports these nominees and will work with relevant Senate committees to advance their confirmations through the chamber.

Press release on Rep. Haaland’s nomination.

Press release on Tom Vilsack’s nomination.

Press release on Michael Regan’s nomination.