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 MurkowskiOvernight Health Care — Presented by Campaign for Accountability — House passes drug pricing bills amid ObamaCare row | Senate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law | Ocasio-Cortez confronts CEO over K drug price tag Senate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law Bipartisan senators unveil measure to end surprise medical bills 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 LeeFrustrated GOP senators want answers from Trump on Iran Congress can expand paid leave and help workers save with bipartisan support Export-Import Bank back to full strength after Senate confirmations MORE (R-Utah) objected.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 CornynTrump's immigration push faces Capitol Hill buzzsaw The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Restrictive state abortion laws ignite fiery 2020 debate Sinema, Gallagher fastest lawmakers in charity race MORE (R-Texas), the No. 2 Republican senator, said that in addition to Lee, Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulUS ambassador to Germany ruffles State Department with budget stand Overnight Defense: Congressional leaders receive classified briefing on Iran | Trump on war: 'I hope not' | Key Republican calls threats credible | Warren plan targets corporate influence at Pentagon Rand Paul: Bolton is a 'malign influence' 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 GardnerSenate Republicans running away from Alabama abortion law Frustrated GOP senators want answers from Trump on Iran Graham: Trump officials not adequately briefing on Iran threat 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 McConnellOn The Money: Treasury rejects Dem subpoena for Trump tax returns | Companies warn trade war about to hit consumers | Congress, White House to launch budget talks next week | Trump gets deal to lift steel tariffs on Mexico, Canada Schumer calls on McConnell to hold vote on Equality Act House Dem cites transgender grandson in voting for Equality Act MORE (R-Ky.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGetting serious about infrastructure Schumer calls on McConnell to hold vote on Equality Act 'SleepyCreepy Joe' and 'Crazy Bernie': Trump seeks to define 2020 Dems with insults 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 CantwellDon't revive logging in national forests Top Finance Dem offers bill to help those repaying student loans save for retirement Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg meets with senators on privacy 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.