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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 MurkowskiFor Biden, a Senate trial could aid bipartisanship around COVID relief Bipartisan Senate gang to talk with Biden aide on coronavirus relief The Hill's Morning Report - Biden takes office, calls for end to 'uncivil war' 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 LeeThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden takes office, calls for end to 'uncivil war' Senate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official Republicans wrestle over removing Trump 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 CornynLimbaugh falsely says Biden didn't win legitimately while reacting to inauguration Top Texas Democratic Party staffers to step down after underwhelming election results K Street navigates virtual inauguration week MORE (R-Texas), the No. 2 Republican senator, said that in addition to Lee, Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulThe Hill's Morning Report - Biden takes office, calls for end to 'uncivil war' Senate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official McConnell faces conservative backlash over Trump criticism 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 GardnerOvernight Defense: Joint Chiefs denounce Capitol attack | Contractors halt donations after siege | 'QAnon Shaman' at Capitol is Navy vet Lobbying world Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes 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 McConnellTrump selects South Carolina lawyer for impeachment trial McConnell proposes postponing impeachment trial until February For Biden, a Senate trial could aid bipartisanship around COVID relief MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerNRSC chair says he'll back GOP incumbents against Trump primary challengers Schumer becomes new Senate majority leader US Chamber of Commerce to Biden, Congress: Business community 'ready to help' 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 CantwellSenators vet Buttigieg to run Transportation Department Hillicon Valley: Texas, other states bring antitrust lawsuit against Google | Krebs emphasizes security of the election as senators butt heads | Twitter cracks down on coronavirus vaccine misinformation Senators press federal agencies for more information on Russian cyberattack 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.