Wildlife Management Institute

WMI Outdoor News Bulletin Sportsmen's Act Stumbles at Finish Line
Sportsmen's Act Stumbles at Finish Line PDF Print E-mail

In spite of broad support from sportsmen and conservation organizations, the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 (S. 3525) failed to clear its final procedural hurdle in the U.S. Senate in late November, reports the Wildlife Management Institute. Bill sponsors have continued working to find resolution to the primary stumbling blocks but time is almost fully off the clock to move the bill in this Congress, leading to a grudging acceptance that the bill will have to wait until the 113th Congress for consideration.

Prior to Thanksgiving, the Sportsmen’s Act was widely seen as an easy win having sailed through a series of procedural votes by overwhelming bipartisan votes of 92-5 and 84-12 respectively. However, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) raised a budget point of order against the bill saying that it violated the 2011 Budget Control Act by authorizing $140 million in new spending. Advocates argued that the bill would actually reduce the deficit by $5 million over the next decade through an increase in the price of the federal duck stamp. Bill supporters needed 60 votes to waive the point of order and failed to do so when all but one Republican joined Sen. Sessions in voting against the motion; the final vote was 50-44. Some insiders suggest the votes, many cast by Senators who had long supported the bill, was part of broader partisan bickering over Senate rules unrelated to the Sportsmen’s Act.

Since the November 26 vote, bill sponsor Jon Tester (D-MT) has worked hard to find a solution to Sen. Session’s budget concerns. Tester and Sessions say that those issues have now been worked out, but the delay has given Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) the opportunity to object to the provision that would exempt lead ammunition and fishing tackle from regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Boxer has also expressed concern over the provision allowing the importation of polar bear trophies killed prior to the bear’s listing under the Endangered Species Act.

Even if it successfully passes the Senate, there has been some question whether the U.S. House of Representatives would be willing to rubber stamp it considering their version of the bill is substantially different. In addition, the duck stamp provisions would raise revenue and technically revenue generating bills must start in the House, causing others to speculate whether they would raise objections to the bill on these grounds.

Sen. Tester recently stated that the bill is on “life-support” and opportunities to move the bill independently or link it to another bill that is moving are becoming less likely. With all of these challenges, the window is nearly closed for the Sportsmen’s Act to be finalized this year. (jas)