U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and outgoing committee Ranking Member Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., yesterday reintroduced a bipartisan package of more than 100 public lands, natural resources, and water bills they negotiated last year with the chairman and ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee.
“While we are disappointed that this package could not pass last year, we remain committed to its provisions and the spirit of our bicameral agreement,” Murkowski and Cantwell said. “The vast majority of bills in this package have been considered through the regular order process and have strong support from members of both parties. States and communities throughout the west, in particular, are counting on us to work together to pass them into law.”
The lands package was placed directly on the Senate calendar yesterday through the Rule 14 process for expedited consideration. Murkowski and Cantwell, along with committee members Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Steve Daines, R-Mont., and Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., reached agreement with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., late last year to consider the package early in the new Congress.
The lands package – S. 47, the Natural Resources Management Act – contains provisions sponsored by 50 Senators in the 115th Congress. Counting cosponsored provisions, the package addresses priorities from nearly 90 Senators. Those include measures to:
- Permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, with key reforms to strengthen its state-side programs;
- Increase access and opportunities for sportsmen for hunting, fishing, and other outdoor recreational activities on federal lands;
- Provide for economic development in dozens of communities through land exchanges and conveyances; and
- Conserve lands of special importance, provided that such protections are supported by the affected state and surrounding communities.
The text of the lands package is identical to the language agreed to last year, with the exception of one provision that has since been separately sent to the president.
Murkowski is chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Cantwell has served as the committee’s ranking member for the past four years, but will step down from that role this week to serve as the lead Democrat on another committee.