What: All Issues : Environment : (S. 1) On an amendment to limit the federal government’s ability to protect public land from development (2015 senate Roll Call 14)
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(S. 1) On an amendment to limit the federal government’s ability to protect public land from development
senate Roll Call 14     Jan 22, 2015
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Win
Qualifies as polarizing?
Yes
Is this vote crucial?
No

This vote was on an amendment limiting the federal government’s ability to protect public land from development.

Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) offered the amendment during consideration of a bill authorizing construction of a controversial oil pipeline. Sen. Fischer’s amendment would have placed new limits on the U.S. Interior Department’s ability to set aside publicly owned land to conserve “historic, cultural, environmental, scenic, recreational, developmental, or biological resources.” In the future, when considering such a designation, federal officials would have had to take into account the Interior Department’s ability to manage the newly protected land, given potentially scarce federal resources.

Sen. Fischer said she was concerned that the federal government had obtained more land than it had the resources to manage. National parks and other protected areas are an important part of U.S. heritage, she said, but they risked falling into disrepair if Congress did not impose some limits.

“Our national parks are facing $13 billion in maintenance needs,” Sen. Fischer said. “We want to keep these resources and parks open for our children and grandchildren to marvel at and enjoy. All of us have unique and special areas within our states, but we in Congress have the responsibility to care for the natural resources of our country.”

Opponents of Sen. Fischer’s amendment argued that it would erect unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles that would make it more difficult to set aside sites of national importance. Americans risked losing important environmental and cultural treasures, they argued.

“This amendment would open the courthouse door over disputes of whether to place worthy lands under protection because of challenges that there are not enough resources or certain issues were not considered ahead of time,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) said. “I think it will do harm to the protection of necessary lands in our country.”

Even though 54 senators voted in favor of Sen. Fischer’s amendment and only 45 voted against it, the amendment was defeated because it was brought up under Senate rules that require 60 votes for passage. Voting “yea” were 50 Republicans and 4 Democrats. Voting “nay” were 41 Democrats and 4 Republicans. As a result, the Senate defeated the effort to limit the federal government’s ability to protect public land from development.


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