November held one of the longer sessions for members of Congress this year.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed the Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act (S. 1081) with a 13-7 vote. S. 1081 dedicates the full $900 million to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The House Natural Resources Committee passed their companion LWCF bill (H.R. 3195) earlier this year with a 21-13 vote.
Next stop: consideration on the Senate and House floors.
Public Land Legislation Moving in the House
Earlier this month, the House passed Rep. Neguse’s (D-CO) Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act (CORE Act, H.R. 823) on the floor with a 227-182 vote. Two other public lands bills that also passed included Rep. Grijalva’s (D-AZ) Grand Canyon Centennial Protection Act (H.R. 1373) and Rep. Lujan’s (D-NM) Chaco Cultural Heritage Area Protection Act (H.R. 2181). BHA, the National Wildlife Federation and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership sent a letter to leadership in support of the three bills.
Another bill BHA supports, Rep. Mike Thompson’s (D-CA) North American Wetlands Conservation Extension Act (H.R. 925), passed unanimously on the House floor. The legislation reauthorizes the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) until fiscal year 2024 at $60 million annually. NAWCA is an incentivizing grant program that quadruples non-federal dollars for each federal dollar invested to protect migratory bird habitat. Since 1989, the program has conserved more than 29.8 million acres of habitat with over 2,833 grant projects. Sen. Heinrich (D-NM) introduced the Senate legislation to reauthorize NAWCA (S. 261), but it has yet to be considered in the Environment and Public Works Committee.
Furthermore, the House Natural Resources Committee voted on eight wilderness designation bills, including Rep. Huffman’s (D-CA) Northwest California Wilderness, Recreation and Working Forests Act (H.R. 2250), Rep. Chu’s (D-CA) San Gabriel Mountains Foothills and Rivers Protection Act (H.R. 2215), Rep. Carbajal’s (D-CA) Central Coast Heritage Protection Act (H.R. 2199) and Rep. Kilmer’s (D-WA) Wild Olympic Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (H.R. 2642). All four bills passed through committee with the support of our California and Washington Chapters. The legislation expands sportsmen’s access on public land and water.
Lawmakers passed another stopgap funding measure before the Sept. continuing resolution (CR) expired on Nov. 21st. The next CR—an extension of fiscal year 2019 funding levels—gives leadership until Dec. 20th to negotiatetopline funding levels for fiscal year 2020 spending. There continues to be disagreements on spending allocations: defense and U.S.-Mexico border wall vs. domestic spending.