GOP highway conferee: No money in land and water conservation fund to raid

The House Democrats who wrote to Boxer and Mica argued that the land and water conservation fund "is and always has been a bipartisan program and is a proven economic driver that ensures all Americans have access to outdoor recreation opportunities."

But Bishop countered that "[I]f anything, the LWCF is detracting from resources that could be applied to improving our infrastructure and transportation needs in order to buy more land. 

"As it stands, the federal government is already struggling to manage the more than 660 million acres it already owns," he said. "Clearly, the last thing it needs is more land.”

Lawmakers signaled for a second straight day on Thursday that the talks about transportation bill were moving again, but neither Boxer, Mica nor the leaders of the respective chambers of Congress made mention of LWCF in public statements they made about the highway bill.

The highway conference committee is trying to beat a June 30 deadline for the scheduled expiration of the current mechanism for funding road and transit projects and avoid a tenth temporary extension, which critics have said would bankrupt the Highway Trust Fund.

The highway bill that is being negotiated also includes the government's authorization to collect the gas tax, which is used to fill the coffers of the transportation trust fund.