Pissed Off By Politicians – Sportsmen’s Bill Derailed By Political Shenanigans

July 10, 2014

I don’t usually, and I’m not now, wrapped up in the general political discourse.  There are things I agree with and things with which I disagree… but that’s not what I want to spend my time writing about on the Hog Blog.  But it’s no secret that there’s some serious dysfunction, and because of that dysfunction, things that matter don’t get done… things like the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014, legislation that would have ensured and enhanced access to public lands for hunters, fishermen, and other outdoorsmen.

At any rate, as much as I have to say about this, I think this press release from the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership says it better.

Political Gamesmanship Sinks Sportsmen’s Bill

Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act fails in Senate for second time as sparring legislators derail bill

WASHINGTON – Broad public support, strong advocacy by hunting and angling groups, and 45 bipartisan cosponsors couldn’t save the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014, a commonsense package of measures intended to enhance sportsmen’s access and opportunity that failed to advance in the Senate this morning.

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and others in the sportsmen’s community were deeply invested in advancing the bill, and the TRCP lambasted today’s actions as an “opportunity lost” due to political gamesmanship.

“The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act, an historic piece of legislation comprising some of the most important measures in years to benefit America’s 40 million sportsmen, has failed due to political infighting, a dysfunctional amendment process, and the extreme wings of both parties, who are more interested in scoring points than legislating on behalf of America’s hunters and anglers and the values of the population at large,” said TRCP President and CEO Whit Fosburgh.

“We are deeply disheartened that a bill with 45 bipartisan cosponsors and the support of the national sporting community could fall victim to a fundamentally broken Senate, where some legislators’ support for sportsmen is only a talking point,” stated Fosburgh. “While we support an open and deliberative legislative process – including Congress’ right to engage in debate and offer amendments – we believe that this process should not come at the expense of advancing commonsense legislation that benefits natural resources conservation, public access and the nation’s outdoors economy.”

A similar package of sportsman-focused legislation likewise failed to advance in the Senate in 2012.
Future opportunities for the bill to advance are highly uncertain, although the bill’s sponsors have indicated that they will try again to pass the bill before year end.

The Remington Outdoor Company, a TRCP corporate partner, reiterated the bill’s value and urged its passage.

“The Remington Outdoor Company fully supports the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014,” said Teddy Novin, Remington director of public affairs. “This legislation will enhance the experience of America’s sportsmen by preserving the rights of hunters to choose their own ammunition, providing state fish and game agencies greater flexibility to build and maintain public shooting ranges, and improving access to public waterways and lands for hunting, recreational fishing and shooting.”



7 Responses to “Pissed Off By Politicians – Sportsmen’s Bill Derailed By Political Shenanigans”

  1. Pissed Off By Politicians – Sportsmen’s Bill Derailed By Political Shenanigans | on July 11th, 2014 00:46

    […] Pissed Off By Politicians – Sportsmen’s Bill Derailed By Political Shenanigans […]

  2. Joshua Stark on July 11th, 2014 08:56

    You know what bothers me about reporting on issues like this? They never give the names.

    I need to know who did it. Do you have any inside information that can help us direct our force?

  3. Phillip on July 11th, 2014 10:43

    Josh, here’s a little more information for you. The problem was that as soon as this thing hit the floor, members of both sides (and yes, it’s polarized enough to call them “sides”) started trying to add in amendments that went way beyond the intent of the bill. This isn’t unusual, of course, although it’s certainly a big part of the overall problem these days… The Act crashed and burned because the Senate would not agree to limit amendments and debate in order to get the bill through.

    Of particular note here were Senator Ted Cruz and his amendment which would call for the Federal Government to liquidate public lands in states with over 50% Federal Land (e.g. Nevada, Alaska) in order to bring total Federal holdings in those states below 50%. You can read a little more about that here. This is, obviously, completely contrary to the intent of the Sportsmen’s Act.

    Cruz also wanted an amendment that would loosen federal laws in regards to interstate commerce of firearms, enabling out of state purchases. Regardless of anyone’s position on this amendment, it doesn’t belong in the Sportsmen’s Act… especially because everyone, including Cruz, knows damned well the Democrats would never allow it to pass.

    On the other side of the table, an amendment was introduced by Connecticut Senators Blumenthal and Murphy to restrict the purchase of guns by veterans deemed “mentally ill”… another amendment that had no chance of getting past the Republican senators.

    There were more proposed amendments on both sides, almost all guaranteed to crash and burn in debate and cause gridlock.

    What it all comes down to is a lot of moronic showmanship by politicians of both parties that made a sham of the very idea of a “bipartisan” Act.

  4. robb on July 12th, 2014 06:20

    I have to admit to being caught unawares by the politics of this bill. I notice that most mainstream sports orgs gave it little mention beforehand or in it’s failure. I suspect that those with a better finger on the pulse of politics foresaw the difficulties.

    Kay Hagan a Democratic senator from North Carolina was one of the sponsors. A big red meat kind of bill like this might give her a little wind to her back headed into a tough reelection contest. The bill had already passed the house.

    Supporting were most Dems and most Republicans.

    Amendments were seen as a way for senators to show constituents that they had made a stand for their pet issue. Privatizing public lands was nod to the extractive industries. Anti or pro gun amendments would allow senators to be on the record as promoting or opposing various gun amendments even though they would fail anyway.

    Rathern than spend what could be months arguing amendments Reid brought the bill up for a vote on whether to proceed without any amendments or not. Republicans voted party lines to deny Kay Hagan any electoral advantage. Joining the Republicans were those Democrats from urban anti hunting states who were opposed to the bill from the beginning, CT, MA, Probably CA, a couple others.

  5. Jeff on July 14th, 2014 21:18

    Thank you Harry Reid the man who derailed this bill. What a moron.

  6. Joshua Stark on July 15th, 2014 21:59

    Phillip, thank you for the concise summary — with names!

    It would seem to me that limiting debate was the only way to move. I do not understand how people think that getting members to actually vote on an issue is tantamount to killing it — it seems to me that idealistic folks killed this bill on purpose (ahem, Ted Cruz) because sportsmen’s issues aren’t really a part of their idealism.

    By the way, USSA’s description of what happened was borderline offensive.

  7. Phillip on July 21st, 2014 13:56

    Josh, you’re welcome.

    This whole thing of adding irrelevant amendments and riders to proposed legislation is hardly new, but I do believe it’s gotten much worse in recent years (some political historian can certainly correct me). The additions to the Sportsmen’s Act were particularly egregious, and I am certain that no one honestly thought they’d get through debate.

    A crucial segment of the Legislative branch has turned into some sort of ideological freak show. The antics are purely juvenile, reminding me of some of the things I saw in University and even High School student governments. “Look how clever I am to use this rule of order and procedure to subvert the entire process!”