Outdoors Act headed toward apparent approval in US Senate


It was one o’clock Friday morning when the U.S. Senate voted to invoke cloture on the Great American Outdoors Act. Oklahoma U.S. Sen. James Lankford was one of 19 Senators who voted against cloture while 65 others favored it.

Sen. Jim Inhofe did not vote on the measure after Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah declined to give up an effort to consider amendments.

POLITICO reported the move puts the bill, H.R. 1957 (116), which offers billions to fix up the nation’s degraded public lands and permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund, on a glide slope toward passage.

Senate Energy Chair Lisa Murkowski told POLITICO’s Morning Energy report she shared Lee’s frustration over amendment votes — and she also blamed leadership for insisting on an early morning vote rather than just moving it to later Friday.

“I absolutely agree with him [Lee],” she said in a Thursday interview. “I think it is wrong that we have turned ourselves into a Senate where we cannot have an amendment process anymore. … He’s got every right to run this out.”

She doesn’t like removing LWCF funding from the appropriations process, but has decided to back the bill. “I support making sure that we can take care of our parks and our public lands. I think we have a responsibility to do that and we must address it,” she said, adding she’s been frustrated that Congress hasn’t been able to make more of a dent in its deferred maintenance backlog on public lands. “I knew that we needed to do something big to address this,” Murkowski said.

Murkowski rejected the notion the bill’s consideration is an election year ploy to aid the reelections of Republican Sens. Cory Gardner and Steve Daines , who face competitive races. “This is not a political stunt by any stretch of the imagination,” she said. “I just think it’s important to recognize that the genesis of these very bipartisan bills happened to stem from the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.”