The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) and its KeepAmericaFishing initiative is calling on everyone connected with recreational fishing, hunting and conservation to help resurrect the Sportsmen’s Act 2012.
The historic act, containing 17 key provisions for outdoor enthusiasts, surprisingly failed to advance in the US Senate this week.
After months of discussion with Senate members by a large and diverse coalition of angling, hunting and conservation organisations the bill failed to pass on a procedural motion.
But the Act may come up for vote again as supporters work hard to find a solution to the problem that stopped the bill from going through.
However, time is running out and the ASA is urging interested individuals and parties to send an “effective message” to Senate members via the link www.KeepAmericaFishing.org/sportsmensact, which takes you to a Take Action Now page.
“We need everyone’s support to help pass this essential piece of legislation,” stressed Gordon Robertson, Vice President of the ASA. “Please help us convince the Senate to bring this bill back to the floor and vote ‘yes’ for fish and wildlife conservation.”
Robertson revealed that the shocking aspect of the bill’s defeat is that it occurred over a budget argument giving the Secretary of the Interior the ability to increase the duck stamp price by $10, thus pumping more dollars into wetland conservation for the benefit of both fisheries and wildlife.
The bill ran into trouble when a point of order was raised about whether it violated a 2011 budget agreement and a motion to waive the point of order failed by just 10 votes. While budget-related disputes are not uncommon, the ASA points out that it is very uncommon for a budget point of order challenging a provision that would modestly increase revenues to sink a bill.
“Adding salt to the wound is that the increase is strongly supported by waterfowl hunters who champion the user pay-user benefit concept for fish and wildlife conservation, as well as the fishing and hunting industries,” said Robertson. “The Congressional Budget Office has stated that overall the Act would reduce the nation’s deficit by $5 million.
“It’s a cruel twist of fate that the Senate failed to move the Act over a budget procedural question when it would most certainly have a positive impact on the nation’s economy. It would truly be a tragedy if this historic piece of legislation went down in flames due to partisanship and simmering disputes over Senate rules and procedures that have nothing to do with the merits of the bill.
“We’ve come this far because we’ve kept partisan politics away from the bill. We need to get back on that course. The ASA and members of the coalition are ready to work with Senate and House members to find a solution that enables passage of the Sportsmen’s Act before Congress adjourns. It will take a lot of effort but we remain hopeful.
”It is not too late for our Senators to put aside the partisanship that caused the bill to fail but they must act quickly.”