NRA wants highway conferees to keep funding for land and water conservation

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The issue has garnered attention as lawmakers are nearing a deadline for reaching a deal on a new transportation bill before a temporary extension of the measure that was supposed to expire in September of 2009 runs out. Last week, a group of 150 Democratic lawmakers wrote a letter to highway conference committee leaders Sen. Barbara BoxerBarbara Levy BoxerKamala Harris on 2020 presidential bid: ‘I’m not ruling it out’ The ‘bang for the buck’ theory fueling Trump’s infrastructure plan Kamala Harris endorses Gavin Newsom for California governor MORE (D-Calif.) and Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) also asking them to keep the land use money in whatever compromise is reached between the House and Senate.

"The LWCF is and always has been a bipartisan program and is a proven economic driver that ensures all Americans have access to outdoor recreation opportunities," the Democratic lawmakers wrote.

A Republican member of the transportation conference committee from the House has argued that without the appropriation for the land use trust fund in the Senate's version of the transportation, there is no money for the program.

"If anything, the LWCF is detracting from resources that could be applied to improving our infrastructure and transportation needs in order to buy more land," Rep. Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopDefense Department walks back opposition to sage grouse amendment More than 100 Dems oppose GOP efforts to change endangered species law Western lawmakers introduce bills to amend Endangered Species Act MORE (R-Utah) said in a statement provided to The Hill last week. 

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

If lawmakers do not agree on at least a 10th extension of the highway funding legislation by Saturday, the federal government's ability to spend money on road and transit projects will run out. The measure also contains the government's authority to collect the 18.4 cents-per-gallon gas tax that is traditionally used to pay for transportation projects.

House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFreedom Caucus members see openings in leadership Five GOP lawmakers mulling bid to lead conservative caucus Ex-lawmakers see tough job market with trade groups MORE (R-Ohio) said Wednesday he was confident that lawmakers are “moving ... towards an agreement” on the transportation bill.