Thursday, 09 December 2010

Democrats Push for Passage of Giant Omnibus Land Bill

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With time running out on the lame-duck session of the 111th Congress, Democrats have bundled over 100 land-grab bills into one omnibus land bill, to be voted on as early as next week.

Hot Air explains, “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has tasked Democratic leaders on at least three committees to come up with a list of bills that could get past a GOP filibuster.”

Under the leadership of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Republicans vowed to filibuster any legislation until Congress comes to an agreement on the Bush era tax cuts, as well as on federal funding.

The Lonely Conservative reports, “Democrat leaders of three committees — Commerce, Energy, and Natural Resources, and Environmental Public Works — are scurrying to send Reid their list of bills that couldn’t pass by themselves, in hopes that stuffing them all into an omnibus lands bill will turn the trick.”

The Washington Examiner explains that a number of the bills in the package are controversial, including Senator Bingaman’s “Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness” bill — which imposes federal Wilderness designation to hundreds of thousands of acres of land in Dona Ana County, as well as thousands more acres of National Conservation Area designation — and Senator Reid’s “Full Funding for the Land and Water Conservation Trust Fund” bill, which would permanently provide $1 billion per year to purchase private property to turn it into federal preserves.

Reid’s bill has provoked the ire of the property rights group, American Land Rights Association. The group’s efforts resulted in the influx of six million e-mails to stop it.

A spokesperson for Democrat Barbara Boxer of California, the Senate Environment and Public Works Chairwoman, indicates that the package has bipartisan support, however. “They represent the work of committees and senators over the course of this Congress and, for many, over the course of a career and they deserve a vote.”

While some bills may have bipartisan support individually, lumped together, they faced harsh opposition.

Robert Dillon, a spokesman for Energy and Natural Resources ranking member Lisa Murkowski, says, “There’s no way a giant omnibus like that would gain support among Republicans.”

Likewise, the effort to pass the package in the lame-duck session may be difficult. Hot Air explains, “With time running out in the lame-duck 111th, Pelosi would have to move these as special orders outside of the committee process, which will eliminate any time-consuming debates on amendments. That process requires a two-thirds majority, which Pelosi doesn’t have.”

Photo of Organ Mountains: AP Images

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