The U.S. Senate vote on cloture - breaking the prospect of a filibuster, and allowing for a straight-up vote - on the mega-public lands bill (Senate Bill 22, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act) passed, 66-12 today, and those 12 were all Republicans, most among the most conservative of Senate Republicans. The yea votes included 12 Republicans also, the remainder being among the 20 senators not casting a vote. (The cloture vote was in response to a challenge from Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, who almost single-handedly has been blocking these measures for years.)
|In the Owyhee Canyonlands/photo by John McCarthy via Owyhee Initiative|
It includes a pile of lands efforts for Oregon, including Mount Hood designation, and one big one for Idaho, the Owyhee Canyonlands wilderness plan. The Canyonlands has been one of Idaho Senator Mike Crapo's major legislative efforts, and his vote for cloture meant a vote for his own proposal. The aye votes from the four Democrats from Washington and Oregon were no surprise. But how would the region's new Republican senator, Jim Risch from Idaho, vote? From his office this afternoon:
Senator Jim Risch cast his first floor vote in the U.S. Senate at an unusual time – Sunday afternoon. The cloture vote, which ended debate on S. 22, came at 2 p.m.
Senator Risch cast a “yes” vote to end debate on a public lands bill that contains several items important to Idaho. Those items include setting aside a portion of the Owyhee Canyonlands as wilderness, funding for several water project studies in southern Idaho, conveying 165 acres of BLM land to the City of Twin Falls, and adding Morley Nelson’s name to the Birds of Prey Conservation Area.
“I am very pleased that my first vote in the U.S. Senate was in support of Senator Crapo’s Owyhee Initiative,” said Risch. ”Like the roadless proposal that I worked on as Governor, this land use legislation is the result of a long collaborative effort by local elected officials, ranchers, recreationists, conservationists, and tribes. The resulting bill protects the livelihood of working ranch families, and provides certainty for recreationists and important cultural resources, as well as outstanding scenic backcountry areas.”
Risch surprised a lot of people with a governorship (brief but energetic) that included some genuine environmental activism. Any questions about whether that would carry over to the Senate seem to be answered.
The cloture vote, by the way, clarifies that the bill is almost certain to pass by a large margin, and has a good shot at becoming law in a matter of weeks.