Follow Barack Obama prior and during his tenure as the 44th President of the United States. Read about my personal observations along with every day facts as they happen. This blog will only submit factual information about the first black President, now in his 2nd term of office.


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Thursday, March 19, 2009

March 19, 2009, 4:49 pm

Senate Passes Lands Bill One More Time

The Senate passed the omnibus public lands bill today, on a vote of 77-20, virtually ensuring that the bill creating new national parks and designating millions of acres as wilderness will become law sometime soon.
Representative Steny Hoyer, the majority leader in the House, just said that members would be voting on the bill next week, under a measure that provides for a simple majority vote. He and Representative Eric Cantor, the Republican whip, exchanged a few words on the House floor when Mr. Cantor sought to inquire as to whether the bill — in its latest incarnation — would be open for amendments.
Nope, Mr. Hoyer said. The House Democratic leadership has been trying to prevent that all along, and that’s one of the reasons the bill ran into trouble two weeks ago when they tried to get it passed under a rules suspension requiring two-thirds approval. It fell two votes short.
The House and the Senate have been engaged in a few procedural moves on the measure, a wrap of more than 160 bills, because of an increasing number of conservative Democrats who are likely to side with gun advocates opposed to limiting recreation like hunting, fishing and trapping on public lands. Additional language was added to the bill to try to assuage those concerns, although Republicans in the House still opposed it by and large over energy and property issues, too.
Mr. Hoyer reminded Mr. Cantor that even though the bill fell short in the House the first time around, the total was a good indicator that it had overwhelming support.

The bill would create 2 million acres of wilderness in nine states — many of them in the West. The list includes wilderness expansions in California’s Eastern Sierra Nevada, Mount Hood in Oregon, Zion National Park in Utah, Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, in Jefferson National Forest in Virginia and the Monongahela in West Virginia. It also calls for establishing a 26-million-acre national conservation system, a new national monument, thousands of miles of trails and increase the number of protected miles along rivers.
Paul Spitler, of the Wilderness Society, called the legislation “the most important conservation measure in a decade.”
Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, acknowledged some of her fellow Republicans’ concerns today as she stood in favor of the bill. She noted that the measure did not limit recreational hunting, fishing or trapping on the new designated areas, nor, she said, was it a “federal land grab.”


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