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Vote Check: U.S. Facing $12 Trillion Debt, but Democrats Vote to Spend an Additional $22.5 Million for Neotropical Birds

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 28, 2009 - During today’s House Natural Resources Full Committee markup, Democrats voted to authorize an additional $22.5 million for neotropical birds and against a fiscally responsible Republican amendment to eliminate the funding increase.

The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act (H.R. 2213) is designed to conserve and protect neotropical birds that migrate between their breeding grounds in North America and their tropical habitats in the Caribbean and Latin America. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, less than 10 of the 340 species of neotropical migratory birds are currently listed under the Endangered Species Act.

H.R. 2213, as amended, would dramatically increase the authorization of the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act from $6.5 million in FY 2009 to $15 million by FY 2015. This is an increase of $22.5 million above current funding levels over the next five years.

“When our country is already $12 trillion in debt, we must give serious consideration to how each and every taxpayer dollar is being spent,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (UT-03), author of the amendment to eliminate the funding increase. “I don’t support authorizing millions of dollars in increased funds for birds, the vast majority of which are neither threatened nor endangered, at a time when 15 million Americans are unemployed. This program receives millions of dollars in non-government assistance, and we can continue to conserve and protect these birds without increased government spending.”

Rep. Chaffetz of Utah Amendment – Eliminate the $22.5 million Increase
Record Vote: 17 YEA, 23 NAY (View Roll Call)
This amendment would eliminate the $22.5 million increase and freeze funding at $6.5 million over the next five years.

Final Passage of H.R. 2213 out of committee
Recorded Vote: 26 YAY, 16 Nay (View Roll Call)

The committee today also marked up four other bills:

Designating segments of the Mollala River in Oregon as components of the Wild and Scenic River Systems (H.R. 2781)
Democrats refused to allow an amendment by Rep. Rob Bishop that would restore rural community funding by directing the Secretary of the Interior to identify and reclassify equivalent BLM land available for timber production.

Final Passage of H.R. 2781 out of Committee

Recorded Vote: 23 YAY, 18 NAY (View Roll Call)

The Devil’s Staircase Wilderness Act of 2009 (H.R. 2888)
This bill would designate over 29,000 acres of federal land in Oregon as wilderness. Wilderness is the most restrictive land use designation, eliminating the use of mechanized recreation and prohibits timber harvest. While a large portion of the proposed acreage is already managed in a restrictive manner, it still falls short of the intent of the Wilderness Act because there are at least 24 miles of roads crossing this area and at least 3,000 acres were open to harvest until the 1980’s.

Rep. Bishop offered an amendment that would have required the Secretary of the Interior to identify suitable lands to replace the value of the timber harvesting opportunities lost due to the Wilderness designation. The majority opposed the amendment and blocked it from being voted upon.

Final Passage of H.R. 2888 out of Committee
Record Vote: 25 YAY, 17 NAY (View Roll Call)

To Eliminate an Unused Lighthouse Reservation (H.R. 86)
This bill would remove an unused lighthouse reservation currently in place for many rocks and small islands along the cost of Orange County, California and allow them to be added to the California Coastal National Monument.

Final Passage of H.R. 86 out of Committee – Passed by voice vote 

To authorize the addition of 100 acres to the Morristown National Historical Park (H.R. 118)
Final Passage of H.R. 118 out of Committee – Passed by voice vote after adoption of a substitute amendment protecting private property rights offered by Rep. Bishop.

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Contact: Emily Lawrimore or Jill Strait (202) 226-2311

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