Last week, the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee voted to zero out funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Forest Legacy, North American Wetlands Conservation Act, and other important programs that have together provided about about $400 million for land conservation in recent years (see last week’s email for details). Tomorrow morning at 11:00 am Eastern, the full Appropriations Committee will meet to consider this disastrous bill (watch the live webcast).
How You Can Help
If your service area includes a member of the House Appropriations Committee we hope you’ll reach out to his or her office today. There will be amendments to improve the bill, but most votes will likely go along party lines. The single most impactful thing your Rep. could do would be to lament these cuts in committee remarks or on the House floor, highlighting specific anecdotes from their states where possible. Remarks from Republicans would be particularly useful in helping Interior Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson (R-ID) yield to better Senate funding levels this fall.
For talking points, fact sheets, and letters of support, please visit our web pages on LWCF/Forest Legacy and NAWCA. You can also use more general talking points from America’s Voice for Conservation, Recreation and Preservation (AVCRP).
In my recent meetings, Committee members have been holding their amendment cards close to the vest, but there may be some interesting action in tomorrow’s committee meeting. A good way to track these developments is to follow me on twitter; I’ll be tweeting updates throughout the day.
What Happened in the Subcommittee Meeting?
Last Tuesday, after about an hour of debate, the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee voted 7-4 along party lines to advance their draft bill without any amendments. It was, however, an interesting debate; you can watch it here.
Chairman Mike Simpson (R-ID) seemed genuinely pained by the cuts, saying “This bill proposes the termination of funding for land acquisition, something I don't particularly like," and he offered a prediction that the funding levels would significantly improve in negotiations with the Senate, as they have in recent years.
Democrats were not prepared to let him off that easy. Ranking Democrat Jim Moran (D-VA) made fiery opening remarks then stormed out of the meeting in disgust. In response to the Chairman’s assertion of impossible overall allocations from leadership, Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) said he should “tell his leadership to go to heck.”
Amid such controversy, we believe it is unlikely this bill will ever see a vote on the House floor, but positions taken here will be relevant factors in subsequent negotiations with the Senate. If you are represented by a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, please be sure that they’re aware of these disastrous House cuts and tell them we’ll be counting on their support to restore these important programs.
Thank you for being part of our Federal Funding Advocates team