Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Pulls Omnibus Public Lands Bill
Reid introduced the legislation, S. 303, the "America's Great Outdoors Act of 2010," on Friday, Dec. 17, as a substitute to unrelated legislation titled the "Federal Financial Assistance Management Improvement Act of 2009." Reid's move was reminiscent of the controversial parliamentary tactic that anti-OHV forces used in 2009 to close 2.1 million acres of public land.
"We are cautiously optimistic that this latest effort to keep the American public from responsibly enjoying America's public lands has failed," said AMA Senior Vice President for Government Relations Ed Moreland. "AMA members played no small role in this provisional success, and we thank our subscribers who responded to AMA Action Alerts to oppose this pending legislation.
"However, we must remain vigilant because Reid has indicated a desire for a smaller version of S. 303 prior to adjournment," said Moreland. "The current session can possibly run through Jan. 4, 2011."
Moreland added that in addition to the recent AMA Action Alert on this issue, the AMA has issued letters and applied procedural pressure to combat Reid's effort to restrict access to public lands. To read the latest alert, see http://capwiz.com/amacycle/callalert/index.tt?alertid=20980501.
Reid's bill was a collection of more than 70 measures and more than 1,000 pages. Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) was one of several senators who protested the legislation, saying it was too sweeping to consider prior to the end of the current session. In addition, key representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives, such as House Natural Resources Chairman-elect Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), voiced opposition to the measure.
"We need to protect public land for future generations, not from future generations, and that includes responsible OHV recreation access," Moreland said. "In addition, legislation deserves a full and public debate on its merits, and parliamentary tricks and sleight-of-hand, such as what we saw in 2009 and what we've experienced here, do not allow that."
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