Senate advances sportsmen's bill

Reid said he hoped to get an agreement with Republicans to hold a final vote on the bill Thursday night so that the Senate could recess until after Thanksgiving.

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The Sportsmen’s Act increases hunters' and fishermen’s access to federal lands. To get more Democrats on board, the bill includes conservation measures, such as establishing a National Fish Habitat Board and extending the sale of stamps, the proceeds from which go to conservation funds that help elephants, tigers, rhinos, great apes and marine turtles.

"Sportsmen and -women across Montana and the nation are calling for responsible decisions that strengthen our outdoor economy and secure our outdoor heritage for future generations," Tester said. "This measure does just that, taking good ideas from Republicans and Democrats to protect our hunting and fishing traditions and safeguard our most treasured places. I will keep pushing to get it across the finish line."

Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) voted against the motion.

Sessions said one reason he wasn't supporting the motion was because the bill would allow the Department of Interior to set the price of duck stamps rather than Congress — something he said the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee rejected.

"It gives the Department of Interior, unelected bureaucrats, power to decided how much to charge for a duck stamp," Sessions said. "Which has always been determined by Congress, not government bureaucracy."

One part of the bill that’s proven controversial is a provision from Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), H.R. 991, that would allow American hunters to bring home polar-bear carcasses being stored in Canada because of the ban on trophy imports.

Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.) introduced an amendment that would strike that portion of the bill. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) co-sponsored the amendment, among others.

“I find this very disturbing,” Blumenthal said of the polar-bear portion of the bill. “This provision of the Sportsmen’s Act undermines current wildlife protections and further imperils an already threatened species by encouraging future killings for sport.”

Polar bears are listed as a threatened species by the Fish and Wildlife Services.

In addition to dealing with polar-bear trophies, the bill removes ammunition and tackle from the federal list regulating waste that contains lead, among other things.

This aricle was updated at 11 a.m. to include Sen. Sessions' remarks.

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