In November, the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 (S. 3525) had already passed the House and was set to be a sure fire winner in the Senate. The failure of this legislation, which is supported by one of the largest and most diverse coalitions of national conservation, fishing, hunting and public land advocacy groups ever assembled is not disappointing but tragic. The Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 would expand public access for fishing and hunting, conserve valuable fish and wildlife habitat and reauthorize numerous programs that benefit sportsmen as well as all Americans.
According to Field & Stream’s Bob Marshall: “This bill didn’t die because of a groundswell of opposition, or vexing financial issues, or lack of effort on the sport of sportsmen’s conservation groups. Instead it was killed when a group of senators decided personal and party vengeance was more important than serving the public’s interest.”
Here’s what Bob says lobbyists for the sportsmen’s coalition summarized the level of toxicity and stupidity of lawmakers who represent us.
“The bill enjoyed bi-partisan support before and after the election, with more than 80 senators voting for it on various procedural votes. But then the GOP senators got furious with Democrats during an ugly debate in which the Dems threatened to change rules to prevent the minority GOP from using the filibuster to block bills.
When the Senate resumed work, the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 was the first piece of legislation to come up. Suddenly, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) had four objections. And just as suddenly, more than 40 Republicans agreed with him, pulling the bill off the calendar. And because there are only a few weeks left in the session, that meant getting it back to the floor would be almost impossible.
After Sessions and the GOP got swamped with angry reaction from sportsmen, they worked with senate president Harry Reid (D-NV) to bring the bill back. But Sen. Barbara Boxer (D- CA) then felt free to exercise her objections over provisions of the bill dealing with lead ammunition and fishing tackle.
She was offered a deal to submit an amendment on the floor, taking those provisions out. Of course, that amendment would have been voted down, but at least she would have had the chance to go on the record opposing that part of the bill. She wasn’t interested . . . ”
Sportsmen, according to Southwick & Associates, account for $646,000,000,000 in sales and over 1,000,000 jobs – more than the entire pharmaceutical industry.
“Senator Tester (D-MT sponsor of the bill) is working with Senator Sessions and stakeholders to pass a once-in-a-generation bill that saves money, expands hunting and fishing, and strengthens conservation efforts,” wrote Tester spokesman Aaron Murphy in an e-mail. “He believes the merits of this bipartisan proposal will rise above minor political hurdles.”
Let’s all hope the bill survives intact as the Sportsmen’s Act of 2013.