Remember back in December, when a stellar public lands package nearly passed but then Mike Lee managed to single-handedly thwart it? At the time, we shared our optimism that Congress would revisit the package in January. And thankfully, now that the government is open, it looks like the Senate is shaping up to pass this public lands package.
This week, Sen. Murkowski, Sen. Manchin and Sen. Cantwell have both been working with leadership to get the public lands package to the floor for a vote. Sen. Murkowski was quoted saying “It's about time. We said we wanted to do it in January, and January is coming to a close" (source).
The package includes a lot of bills we have all worked hard on for years, including permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Area, Oregon Wildlands, the Yellowstone Gateway Protection Act, Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, Methow Valley Headwaters Protection Act, and the Emery County Public Lands Initiative. You can see our full policy letter at right.
For the package to pass, here’s what needs to happen:
Sen. Murkowski already reintroduced the package in the Senate. The Senate is planning to use something called Rule 14, which will let them bypass committees and bring legislation directly to the floor for a vote. The Senate has said it would like to vote on the package as early as the end of this week.
Then the House needs to pass the package. It’s a little more complicated there because of the change in leadership, and still-developing committees and staff. Once the Senate passes their version of the package, the House will either try to pass an identical version, or it will create its own version of the bill.
We’re stoked to see the urgency that lawmakers are bringing to getting this package across the line and want to do everything we can to help get these important bills passed. In particular, we’re grateful for the hard work Sen. Murkowski, Sen. Cantwell, Sen. Daines, Sen. Manchin, and Sen. Gardner, as well as Rep. Grijalva and Rep. Bishop in the House to get these bills passed. If this package passes, it will be the biggest set of public lands protections passed in more than four years.
Along with major landscape protections, we’re especially keen to see LWCF reauthorized. The program, which has been called the country’s “best conservation program,” provides funding for local, state, and national parks and recreation and expired September 30, 2018.
Click on the link or use the form below to send a note to your lawmakers telling them what you think!