November 17, 2008

Senate Puts Off Lands Bill Until Next Year

Congressional Quarterly Inc.

The Senate will not take up an omnibus public lands bill this year, Majority Leader Harry Reid , D-Nev., said Monday, because there isn’t enough time to overcome procedural obstacles from an opponent of the legislation.

Reid said he and Robert F. Bennett , R-Utah, decided “we’re better off waiting until we come back.” He said the bill will be one of the first things the Senate takes up when they return in January.

Tom Coburn , R-Okla., has vowed to use parliamentary tactics to hold up the bill, including demanding that it be read in full and threatening a filibuster that would require at least one cloture vote.

Coburn, R-Okla., has a variety of objections. In some cases, he has concerns about preventing oil and gas development or the loss of revenue for the Treasury.

“If we brought it up today, there would be a requirement to read the bill and it would take more than 24 hours to do that,” Reid said.

The legislation combines more than 150 bills to expand wilderness areas, authorize land swaps and provide other protections for federal lands. It was introduced as an amendment to a separate wilderness bill.

Twenty senators led by Ron Wyden , D-Ore., and Lisa Murkowski , R-Alaska, wrote Reid on Nov. 14 urging swift passage, and he had promised to bring it up in this week’s lame-duck session.