Senators eye short-term fix for conservation fund

Senators eye short-term fix for conservation fund
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Senators are working toward a short-term extension of a key conservation fund before the fiscal year ends at midnight.

Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrMcConnell hopes Senate impeachment trial 'not too lengthy a process' Bipartisan senators urge national security adviser to appoint 5G coordinator GOP divided over impeachment trial strategy MORE (R-N.C.) said Wednesday that he hopes to reach an agreement in the Senate to extend the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) for 60 days while work continues on a long-term reauthorization measure for the program.

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“I think we're just giving it some time, to work out some challenges that people have,” he said in an interview. “I'm hopeful that it will be today or early tomorrow.”

Burr and a group of Republicans took to the Senate floor Wednesday to hail the LWCF, a $300 million program that preserves federal lands around the country and funds outdoor recreation.

The program’s charter expires on Oct 1., and though it maintains its funding in the continuing resolution lawmakers are expected to approve on Wednesday, the program will not be allowed to accept new deposits until it’s reauthorized.

“I intend to pass a permanent [reauthorization], at some point, but I'd like to keep this uninterrupted in the interim,” Burr said Wednesday. “The House could act tonight if we gave them something.”

LWCF is a traditionally bipartisan program, and its renewal has won support from both sides of the aisle. Senators on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee reauthorized the LWCF in their energy overhaul bill this summer, but a stand-alone measure, like one Burr has introduced, has not yet moved through through the Senate. 

In the House, some Republicans, led by Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopWalden retirement adds to GOP election woes Overnight Energy: Automakers group sides with Trump in emissions lawsuit | Latest on California wildfires | Walden won't seek reelection | Park Service scraps plan to charge protesters for security Oregon GOP Rep. Greg Walden won't seek reelection MORE (R-Utah), are looking to reform the program before reauthorizing it, further complicating its immediate path forward.

"Both Republicans and Democrats support the original intent of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, but the program has drifted far from the original intent,” Bishop said in a Friday statement.

“Under my chairmanship, the status quo will be challenged. Any reauthorization of LWCF will, among other improvements, prioritize local communities as originally intended.”