Why It Matters: With roughly three legislative weeks left in the Congressional calendar, it is now or never to pass legislation before the door closes on the 117th Congress. If CSF’s priorities are left unaddressed by the time this Congress finishes, each piece of legislation will have to start over at the beginning of the legislative process when the 118th Congress convenes in January.
- Congress returns this week for the remaining few legislative weeks of the 117th Congress and the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) is working to ensure that the interests of sportsmen and women are addressed before the conclusion of this Congress.
- In these remaining weeks, CSF is urging Congress to prioritize several critically important issues for sportsmen and women. These priorities include the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, the Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act, the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act, a bill to address the Cottonwood decision, the Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act, and the Reinvesting in Shoreline Economies and Ecosystems (RISEE) Act.
As the sun sets on the 117th Congress, it is important for this Congress to address a number of issues that are critical to sportsmen and women and our conservation efforts across the country. The following priorities are the top issues that CSF is urging Congress to prioritize and pass before the end of the year:
- Recovering America’s Wildlife Act
The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act has the opportunity to be the most significant investment in fish and wildlife conservation in decades. With successful passage already occurring at the Senate committee level in April, bipartisan passage by the House in June, and widespread bipartisan and stakeholder support, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act has all the makings for an end-of-the-year agreement. By providing nearly $1.4 billion annually to state and Tribal wildlife agencies to proactively conserve nearly 12,000 Species of Greatest Conservation Need, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act should be considered a must-pass piece of legislation.
- Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act
The U.S. Senate should also prioritize the passage of the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Research and Management Act (H.R. 5608/S. 4111), which provides $70 million from FY22 to FY28 for CWD research and management. This legislation marks the first piece of legislation to be supported by all interested CWD stakeholders. With that support in mind, H.R. 5608 bill sailed through the House on an impressive bipartisan vote of 393-33 roughly six weeks after it was introduced. Additionally, the bill is cosponsored by nearly a quarter of the U.S. Senate, demonstrating the widespread bipartisan support for addressing CWD. As CWD continues to spread across the country and our wildlife managers are forced to divert limited resources to CWD research and management, H.R. 5608 and S. 4111 represent an essential investment in our efforts to combat CWD.
- America’s Outdoor Recreation Act
In May of this year, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted unanimously to pass the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act (S. 3266), a bill strongly supported by CSF. Led in a bipartisan fashion by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Vice Chair Senator Joe Manchin and CSC Member John Barrasso, this bill recognizes the importance of federal public lands for sportsmen and women, and other conservationists. One of the top priorities for CSF included in S. 3266 is language that would require the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service to have a minimum of one shooting range in each of their respective districts, which will enhance opportunities for America’s 32 million recreational target shooters. Congress has yet to pass a broad public lands package in the 117th Congress and S. 3266 should fill that void.
- A Fix to the Cottonwood Decision
In 2018, Congress passed a partial fix to the problematic 2015 Cottonwood decision, which essentially halts any forest management projects in the 9th Circuit on federal lands. However, the partial fix is set to expire in March of 2023. As such, it is critical that Congress pass S. 2561, a bill led by CSC Member Senator Steve Daines, to provide much-need relief to our public land managers by alleviating the costly procedural hurdles imposed by the Cottonwood decision. Recognizing the hindrances caused by Cottonwood, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed the bill in July on a convincing vote of 16-4. A permanent fix to the Cottonwood decision is strongly supported by dozens of sporting-conservation and professional wildlife management organizations.
- Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act
The Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act (H.R. 404/S. 273) is a bipartisan bill that will eliminate the last of the large-scale, antiquated drift gillnet fisheries in the U.S. and assist fishery participants in shifting to more targeted and efficient gears. Large-mesh drift gillnets that target swordfish off California’s coast are a passive method of commercial fishing in deep waters that entangles not only swordfish but also results in the mortality of other important sportfish species, as well as marine mammals and sea turtles. This bill passed the Senate earlier this year under unanimous consent and we urge the House to add this legislation to the floor calendar. CSF credits Congress for passing the Driftnet Modernization and Bycatch Reduction Act in the 116th Congress, but unfortunately, the bill was not signed into law in January 2021.
- Reinvesting in Shoreline Economies and Ecosystems (RISEE) Act
The RISEE Act (H.R. 9049/S. 2130) would help diversify federal conservation funding by dedicating a portion of the royalties from the development of offshore wind to coastal resiliency investments and dedicating more of the existing offshore energy production revenue from the Gulf of Mexico to support regional coastal restoration and resiliency projects. In July, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed the RISEE Act on a strong vote, signaling strong support for coastal restoration efforts which have the added benefit of enhancing recreational fishing opportunities for coastal communities.