Reid slams GOP over expiration of conservation funding

Reid slams GOP over expiration of conservation funding
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Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidGraham signals support for confirming a Supreme Court nominee this year Trump signals he will move to replace Ginsburg 'without delay' Senate Republicans signal openness to working with Biden MORE (D-Nev.) blasted Republicans on Thursday for refusing to take up a bill to reauthorize a federal conservation fund. 

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) expired on Wednesday night. Though the $300 million-a-year program will be funded under the continuing resolution approved Wednesday, it will not be able to accept new funding from offshore oil drilling fees until it is reauthorized. 

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“It is a program supported by Democrats and Republicans, by rural communities and urban communities,” Reid said in a floor speech. 

“But on Republicans’ watch, one of the most important programs and one of the best programs to our nation’s parks, and one of the most broadly supported programs in the country, has been allowed to lapse. It’s gone.”

The LWCF supports land acquisition and recreation projects on public lands around the country.

A group of Republicans said Wednesday that they were working on a short-term extension of the program, but they couldn’t reach a deal on the matter before the midnight deadline. The measure would probably have run into opposition in the House anyway, given a push by some House Republicans to overhaul the LWCF before passing an extension. 

“The fact is the Republican leader refused to extend the program in the continuing resolution despite many Democrats and Republicans asking for it to be included,” Reid said on Thursday.

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) tried to call up an LWCF bill Wednesday night before the deadline, but Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeMcConnell shores up GOP support for coronavirus package McConnell tries to unify GOP Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump MORE (R-Utah) blocked the move, saying the program needs to be reformed before it can be extended.

“When we wake up tomorrow after allowing LWCF's authorization to expire, nothing will have substantively changed,” Lee said Wednesday night. 

“I know I speak for many of my colleagues in the West when I say that LWCF reform, especially with regard to federal land acquisition, is a necessary condition of reauthorization.”