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Senate poised to kick land bill fight to January

Senate poised to kick land bill fight to January
© Stefani Reynolds

The Senate is poised to punt a public lands fight to January after a pair of conservative lawmakers objected to the bill because of a fight over national monuments.

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMcConnell tees up Barrett nomination, setting up rare weekend session Republicans advance Barrett's Supreme Court nomination after Democrats boycott committee vote Democrats to boycott committee vote on Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court nomination MORE (R-Alaska) and a bipartisan group of senators tried to get consent to move the package, which temporarily delayed passage of the short-term spending bill, but Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeEnd the American military presence in Somalia Ted Cruz won't wear mask to speak to reporters at Capitol Michigan Republican isolating after positive coronavirus test MORE (R-Utah) objected.

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Lee said he wanted two words "for Utah" to be included in the Antiquities Act, which would prevent a president from creating or expanding national monuments without state approval in Utah.

"This bill creates 1.3 million acres of wilderness, about half of which is in my state," Lee argued, referring to the lands package. "Coming from a state where two-thirds of the land is owned by the federal government, where we can't do anything without leave from the federal government, this hurts."

Lee added that he received the text of the lands package, which would also reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, saying that he had tried to obtain an outline of the bill from Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), but could only get a summary from a lobbyist.

"I've made what I consider a very reasonable offer, and I ask that it be accepted. It involves two words. I want the inclusion of two words to this bill, two words. Add the words 'for Utah' to the Antiquities Act," Lee said.

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynThe Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 spending wars | Biden looks to clean up oil comments | Debate ratings are in The Hill's Campaign Report: Obama to hit the campaign trail l Biden's eye-popping cash advantage l New battleground polls favor Biden Quinnipiac poll finds Biden, Trump tied in Texas MORE (R-Texas), the No. 2 Republican senator, said that in addition to Lee, Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulMichigan Republican isolating after positive coronavirus test GOP Rep. Mike Bost tests positive for COVID-19 Top Democrats introduce resolution calling for mask mandate, testing program in Senate MORE (R-Ky.) has placed a hold on the land legislation which will prevent senators from passing it this year unless they reach an agreement.

Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerThe Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 spending wars | Biden looks to clean up oil comments | Debate ratings are in Democrats seek to block appeal of court ruling ousting Pendley, BLM land plans Senate is leaning to the Democrats, big time, with a wave MORE (R-Colo.) said they offered to give Lee a vote on his idea on Wednesday, but he rejected them.

"I am pretty darn upset. … We offered deal after deal after deal to try to get a deal arranged and made so that we could have a vote tonight," Gardner said.

Murkowski and Cornyn said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care: Following debate, Biden hammers Trump on coronavirus | Study: Universal mask-wearing could save 130,000 lives | Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight On The Money: Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight | Landlords, housing industry sue CDC to overturn eviction ban Finger-pointing picks up in COVID-19 relief fight MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerTrump announces opening of relations between Sudan and Israel Five takeaways on Iran, Russia election interference Pelosi calls Iran 'bad actor' but not equivalent to Russia on election interference MORE (D-N.Y.) have agreed to give it a vote shortly after the upper chamber returns in January.

Murkowski and Sen. Maria CantwellMaria Elaine CantwellDemocrats seem unlikely to move against Feinstein Hillicon Valley: Senate panel votes to subpoena Big Tech executives | Amazon says over 19,000 workers tested positive for COVID-19 | Democrats demand DHS release report warning of election interference Senate panel votes to subpoena Big Tech executives MORE (D-Wash.) added that they were confident the Senate would pass the lands package next year, including reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, noting that they believed a majority of the chamber supported.

"He was offered a chance to have this bill brought up and to have his ideas voted on and he knew he was going to lose. And he knows he's going to lose in January," Cantwell said, referring to Lee.

"My colleague ... [is] imagining that somehow the land and water conservation fund being made permanent is not going to pass the United States Senate, he's just dreaming of something that is really going to take place and become reality," she continued.