Senate Fails to Pass Sportsmen Bill; Tribal Treaty Amendment Filed

Source: Water4fish, July 10, 2014

Today, the Senate failed to advance S. 2363, a bi-partisan sportsmen bill designed to boost hunting and fishing protections on federal public land, reauthorize the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act (FLTFA), wetland and fishing conservation programs, and would allow online sales of duck stamps.  The bill, introduced by Senator Kay Hagan, (D-NC) and co-sponsored by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), was meant to help several incumbents who face tough reelection races this year. 
Seen as a political boon for red-state Democrats, the bill died by a vote of 41-56 due to disagreements over a slew of amendments that would have forced vulnerable incumbents to take tough votes on tweaking gun laws.  Among the amendments filed today was one that would have protected tribal treaty and other rights of tribes.  The amendment, sponsored by Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and co-sponsored by Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, stated in part: 
“(b) Effect of Act.–Notwithstanding any other provision of law, nothing in this Act or the amendments made by this Act affects or modifies any treaty or other right of any Indian tribe, including the protection of sacred and cultural areas.
(c) Duties of the Secretaries with Respect to Treaty Rights.  In carrying out this Act or the amendments made by this Act, the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture shall take appropriate measures to uphold treaty and other rights of Indian tribes, including protecting and preserving sacred and cultural areas of Indian tribes located on Federal public land.”  
Mapetsi reported on February 13th, that the House passed H.R. 3590, its version of a sportsmen bill.  Even though the House bill also included language to protect tribal treaty rights on federal public land, the Heinrich/Tester amendment that was filed today would have provided greater protections for tribal rights by requiring Interior and USDA to take “appropriate measures to uphold” tribal treaty and other rights.  Key differences between the House and Senate bills over environmental, FLTFA reauthorization and other issues all but guarantees that Congress will not pass a sportsmen bill this year.
In February, Senator Heinrich introduced S. 368 a stand-alone bill to reauthorize FLTFA, which facilitates the administrative sale or disposal of certain federal public land.  Heinrich has expressed support for inclusion of provisions to protect treaty and other rights of tribes in his FLTFA reauthorization measure.
Mapetsi will continue to provide updates on this issue.




Senators Heinrich and Tester amendment to S. 2363–