By Myers Reece, 11-19-12
||Caption: U.S. Senator Jon Tester talks with reporters at the Flathead Beacon office on May 4, 2012, in Kalispell. Lido Vizzutti | Flathead Beacon
After an anticipated final vote on Sen. Jon Tester’s Sportsmen’s Act didn’t materialize last week, the U.S. Senate is scheduled to resume consideration of the expansive outdoors bill on Nov. 26 with the expectation of making a final decision.
The Sportsmen’s Act is a collection of provisions that address a broad assortment of outdoor and sportsmen issues, including public access, shooting ranges, habitat restoration, electronic duck stamps, transportation of bows through national parks, wetlands conservation, ammunition and tackle regulation, and more.
The Senate voted 92-5 on Nov. 13 to advance the Sportsmen’s Act, leading to anticipation that a final vote would be held later in the week. The Senate then voted 84-12 to invoke cloture and end debate.
But on Nov. 15, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., raised concerns over duck stamp increases and said the bill violates the Budget Control Act, which sets federal spending levels. He indicated he would raise a budget “point of order” to be addressed when the Senate continues with the measure on Nov. 26. Sessions said he otherwise supports the package.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had hoped for a final vote before Thanksgiving recess. Reid called the Sportsmen’s Act “one of the most popular bills” the Senate had considered in the last session and thought it would pass easily after the politics of election season were out of the way.
“I just can’t imagine why we’re still trying to refight an election that took place a week ago,” Reid said last week, according to the Associated Press.
Tester, a Democrat, says his bill is bipartisan and supported by nearly 50 conservation and wildlife groups, ranging from the National Rifle Association to The Nature Conservancy. The Obama administration supports the measure and Montana Sen. Max Baucus is a cosponsor.
“Sportsmen and women across Montana and the nation are calling for responsible decisions that strengthen our outdoor economy and secure our outdoor heritage for future generations,” Tester said in a statement last week.
“This measure does just that, taking good ideas from Republicans and Democrats to protect our hunting and fishing traditions and safeguard our most treasured places. I will keep pushing to get it across the finish line.”
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