Oklahoma Senators vote against full funding of US federal lands


The Senate passed the most significant conservation legislation in decades on Wednesday but did so without the support of Oklahoma U.S. Sens. Jim Inhofe and James Lankford.

Senators voted 73-25 to clear the package to secure full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million annually and provide billions to address maintenance backlogs on the nation’s public lands. Inhofe and Lankford voted against the package.

Inhofe issued a statement indicating the federal government already owns 640 million acres of land in the U.S. which represents 28 percent of the country.

“While I agree that we should be taking care of our parks and other public lands, I simply cannot get on board with making permanent the funding used by the government to acquire more land when it can’t take care of what it already owns,” said the Republican Senator. “As an avid sportsman and outdoor enthusiast, I look forward to continuing my work to advance conservation and promote recreation in the outdoors, particularly with voluntary programs that do not rely on the acquisition of more federal land, such as the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program.”

The measure now heads to the House, where House Natural Resources Chair Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said its main tenets have bipartisan backing, including from Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

A number of House Democrats facing their own competitive reelection bids, led by Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.), are leading that chamber’s efforts, though the schedule remains uncertain given the House’s focus on measures to address the pandemic-hit economy.