Republicans shoot down Sportsmen’s Act on technicality
It’s hard to know what to think about Senate Bill 3525, The Sportsmen’s Act, which many thought would be passed this fall but was stopped late in November by Republicans who said it violated the Budget Control Act.
Discussed since last spring, the act would have combined more than a dozen bipartisan bills that sought to expand opportunities for hunters and fishermen. The bill would have provided more access to public lands, curbed restrictions on lead ammunition and fishing gear, protected fish and wildlife habitat, raised duck stamp fees and allowed hunters to retrieve 41 polar bears killed in Canada before the bears were protected – just to name some of its aspects. It enjoyed strong bipartisan support and the President said he would sign it.
But when it was discussed in the Senate on Nov. 26, some senators objected to the $14 million in new federal spending that it would require, and one, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., moved to stop the bill because it violated the Budget Control Act. Other members of the Senate attempted to waive Sessions’ point of order, but were unsuccessful.
I’m shaking my head over the whole thing. I had my doubts over the bill’s likelihood of passing because it pulled in so many issues. Really, some of these bills did not belong together. Polar bears and lead fishing sinkers?
Then, when it continued through the process, I thought for sure it would die due to lack of attention during the election-mania. I was incredulous that Republicans and Democrats could even think about passing some legislation together. And I laughed when, during some of their arguments about setting the price of duck stamps, some legislators objected to a bureaucratic government office setting the price and said Congress should continue to do it. (It’s because
Congress hasn’t done its job that the price of a duck stamp hasn’t changed in about 20 years.)
But I was really surprised that when it came down to the end, it was the Republicans, supposedly the friends of sportsmen everywhere, who were the ones who ultimately put the brakes on this legislation.
What’s next for the Sportsmen’s Act or something similar? Who knows? Some of the important aspects of it need to be addressed soon. Don’t hold your breath while Congress tries to figure it out.