House Interior Budget Includes Some Winners, Some Losers

FY 19 Interior-related appropriations minibus unites conservationists
and outdoor enthusiasts to defend public lands and waters

WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives advanced a Fiscal Year 2019 Interior Appropriations bill today, but not without a fight from public lands sportsmen and women, who combined forces with the broader conservation community to oppose amendments in the bill that threaten great places to hunt, fish and access our shared lands and waters.

Consequently, Rep. Andy Biggs’ (R-AZ) proposed amendment that would undermine the Land and Water Conservation Fund was defeated with a 172-237 vote. No Democrats voted in favor of the measure and 52 Republicans voted against it, including Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT), Mike Simpson (R-ID) and Scott Tipton (R-CO). If passed, the amendment would have cut $1.4 million from LWCF to help pay for the National Park Service maintenance backlog.

“This strong bipartisan vote in support of LWCF speaks volumes about the value citizens place on targeted conservation work and meaningful public access projects,” said BHA Conservation Director John Gale. “It signals that LWCF is just as important or even more important than addressing the maintenance backlogs for the National Park Service.”

Sportsmen and women also successfully defeated Rep. Tom Emmer’s (R-MN) amendment that would have prohibited Secretary Ryan Zinke from protecting the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from risky mineral leases within the watershed. The BWCAW is home to world-class public lands used for recreation activities, including hunting and fishing. Rep. Emmer withdrew his amendment during floor considerations.

Harmful amendments to the bill that passed through the House include a $65 million cut to LWCF and a provision to repeal the Obama-era Clean Water Act waters of the United States, or WOTUS, rule.

“Clean water is important to every single American and the thought of reducing protections, especially in this day in age when we know better, is ludicrous,” said BHA President and CEO Land Tawney. “We’re optimistic that Senate leaders will prevail and their version of this package – absent this damaging provision – will move forward.”

The Senate FY19 Interior-related spending package is free of damaging riders and maintains funding for LWCF. Senate leadership has not yet scheduled floor time for its version, and lawmakers have only until Sept. 30 to pass or extend all 12 appropriations bills before government spending expires. The threat of a government shutdown looms should decision makers not act before that date.

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is the sportsmen’s voice
for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife.

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