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UPDATED at 12:55 pm. Update at end of article. In a surprise vote this morning, the U.S. House of Representatives failed to achieve the two-thirds majority needed to pass a landmark public lands protection bill that would have ensured access and opportunity for hunters and anglers today and for generations to come. That news just in courtesy of Trout Unlimited, one of the main backers of the massive bill that the U.S. Senate has already passed.

House Votes Down Public Lands Bill

UPDATED at 12:55 pm. Update at end of article.

In a surprise vote this morning, the U.S. House of Representatives failed to achieve the two-thirds majority needed to pass a landmark public lands protection bill that would have ensured access and opportunity for hunters and anglers today and for generations to come.

That news just in courtesy of Trout Unlimited, one of the main backers of the massive bill that the U.S. Senate has already passed.

By vote of 282-144, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 was voted down, even though it achieved a majority of votes. Unfortunately, according to Steve Moyer, TU vice president for government affairs, the vote was conducted under the suspension of House rules, which is why the two-thirds majority was needed.

The act includes the Wyoming Range Legacy Act, the Copper-Salmon Wilderness Act, the Wild Monongahela Wilderness Act and the National Landscape Conservation System Permanence Act, among other pieces of conservation legislation important to sportsmen and women across the country.

“This bill would do more for sportsmen than any bill in the last 25 years, so we are understandably disappointed in today’s outcome,” Moyer said in a press release. “But, the good news is, we’re only a few votes short, so hopefully, the House leadership can round up the needed support and try again. We’re disappointed, but we’re encouraged that we can get the help we need from Congress.”

Tom Reed, a TU field coordinator in Wyoming and Montana, expressed his disappointment over the outcome of today’s vote, noting important legislation that benefits hunters and anglers and solidifies the country’s hunting and fishing heritage remains in limbo. Reed worked with Wyoming sportsmen and lawmakers to draft a bill to protect 1.2 million acres of the Wyoming Range from new oil and gas development in order to protect that region’s unmatched hunting and angling resources.

“There are a lot of disappointed hunters and fishermen in Wyoming who value the Wyoming Range and believe it’s not worth risking for a few days of natural gas and a few hours of oil,” he said. “We are hopeful the House will take another shot with this bill—it’s just too important to drag out much longer. We’re watching closely. We have a lot at stake and we’re not going to give up.”

UPDATE: Immediately after I posted this story, Jared White of The Wilderness Society emailed me to assure readers that “this goose wasn’t cooked.”

“From a Wilderness Society perspective,” White said, “the lopsided 282-144 vote in support of the legislation reflects the strong bipartisan support for new wilderness. The bill is likely to come up again in the House, and we expect it to be enacted into law this year.”

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Comments

  1. Rick says:

    This setback is simply the latest example of the GOP hard right’s regressive pattern of trying to stop legislation that most members of Congress and most Americans want. The Neocons lost badly in the last election, and thereby lost their political primacy. Their only remaining power, as shown in this case, is to delay bills and otherwise gum up the works of our democracy. They have sadly become a major speed bump on the road to solving our public lands and other problems. I hope that voters in their districts are paying close attention and hold these GOP members accountable.

  2. bearbait says:

    So who in the Democrats brought it up for vote under suspended rules so that it had to have a super majority? How dumb was that? If you want a vote on legislation, you are supposed to have the whip tell you that you have the votes to pass it. This appears to have been just some more Democrat fumbling in the red zone, and then blaming it on the refs.

    The “loyal opposition” is just that. Opposition. Opposed. Not for. What in Crappola’s name do you think the Democrats did for ten years? They voted “nay” from the back benches, and in committee, and slowed or stopped any and all legislation possible. THAT IS HOW IT WORKS. FOR BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE.

    So quit spinning and ask yourself, as a good Obama Democrat, who screwed up the vote? Who let it go to vote under the super majority rule? That was Bush Strategerie, Dude!! This is not about Republican neocons being un-American….duh….It was bad bill management by the Pelosi House…Bad Bill Management!!!! Once again, the majority badly managed the bill.

  3. Montucky says:

    I see that Rehberg, who seems to hate anything that has to do with wilderness or conservation, voted against it. I supposed it would make it harder for his development buddies to exploit the last remaining wild country.

  4. bearbait says:

    As I thought, the problem for the bill was that it was a Queen Pelosi bill and had firearms restrictions in it. The rules were for a super majority to pass, because that is the only way to avoid having to vote on amendments, some of which concerning the gun issue had enough Democrats supporting them to pass. The Omnibus Wilderness Bill was defeated because the majority Democrats did not want any amendment that would allow carrying guns in National Parks to come to a vote. Limits on the democratic process by the majority. That is a form of tyranny. No concealed carry, no transportation through. So they tried to ram it through on suspended rules, which requires the super majority. Their whip did not count the votes, and it was defeated. There were Democrats voting “nay” as well. Bad bill management. Poor leadership. Dictatorial Pelosi leadership. Blew up in her face. As it should. Most Republicans and some Democrats were looking out for gun owner rights and the Constitution. I thank them for their “nay” votes on that issue alone.

  5. Scott says:

    On the flip side, this sort of bill would have severely limited mountain biking on the land in question. On one hand I’m upset but I’m also happy that it was defeated because of the anti-bike aspect to Wilderness areas. What to do???

  6. bearbait says:

    I was wrong on the gun issue in the Omnibus Wilderness Bill. The guns in National Parks issue was amended, added, without a vote. So the gun issue is moot. And no embarrassing votes cast by Democrats.

    The same thing about any other possible amendments is still the reason for failure. The Democrat leadership is not going to allow amendments, and that will kill the bill this session. It is all due to Pelosi not wanting Democrats with weak seats to be subjected to votes they will have to defend in next year’s elections.

    So, in a quote for Oregon Democrat Senator Ron Wyden’s Chief of Staff, Josh Kardon, the Oregonian reports “It would seem one answer would be for House Democrats to man up and agree to take on tough subjects.” So how wonderfully humorous do I find that comment to Pelosi, et al, the Queen herself, to be told to “man up?”

    Kardon is further quoted as saying “Every Democrat in the Senate just took a host of difficult votes on amendments designed to embarrass or entrap them,” referring to votes earlier this week on congressional pay raises.

    Yeah. Hey, Democrats!! You want a Wilderness Bill. Man up. Take your shots. If you have a large majority, I guess you just have to know the back bench, the minority, is in play, and so are your members with the weakest re-election prospects. Man up. Whining gets you nowhere. And whining does not produce a Wilderness bill.

    I once was talking about a very aggressive timber bidder at a timber sale, and commented to the other person in the conversation the guy was just amazingly smart. And they guy I was talking to said that he agreed, but if we waited, he would outsmart himself sooner or later….and he did. Nancy: You go, girl…. your Highness. You overthrew all your receivers. And it is now time to blame the Quarterback…and rightly so…..

    Congress needs to take the time to do it right. I would suggest asking Rehberg where he stands before you castigate him. He was, you know, on the winning side of the vote while being in the minority party. You need his help, his vote.

  7. Brad says:

    Great posts Bearbait, you clearly understand how the system works. Any government large enough to give us everything, is powerful enough to take everything we have.

  8. marion says:

    I wish someone could explain how closing off access for some will guarantee access. The bill was designed to limit or deny access, not increase it. Developers cannot use public land for building, but you eliminate grazing and put ranchers out of business and guess what, they sell for trophy ranches and the private land you once used to access your private wilderness is off limits by the new rich trophy owner. Smart, real smart.

  9. Jeff says:

    This was not appropriate for suspension rules. It should have gone through regular process that would subject it public scrutiny.

  10. Don says:

    I have to agree with Jeff and Marion. This thing is not fair to the people that use and need the land, also not fair to the people that won’t have the access in the future.