Omnibus Public Lands bill held up in U.S. House

Paleontology provisions threaten bill-

This is a big surprise.

Because the House leadership wants to pass the bill under suspension of the rules, it requires a 2/3 majority. If it can’t muster that, it goes to regular order, perhaps pushing the bill’s consideration months into the future.*

Folks will recall that the massive measure recently passed the U.S. Senate.

Story: Paleontology provisions threaten bill that includes Dominguez conservation area. By Mike Saccone. Grand Junction Sentinal.

– – – – – –

* Major bills in the U.S. House must obtain a rule (a set of procedures for debate) from the House Rules Committe) before they go to the floor, unless they are brought up under suspension of the rules. Under suspension,  a bill is debated for only 20 minutes with time divided equal between for and against. No amendments are allowed, but the bill must get 2/3 or better in favor. If it does not get this, the bill is not dead, but it must then first get a rule from the House Rules Committee and be considered in the way the “rule” specifies. This can be done quickly, or if there is a long stack of legislation of higher priority, it can take a long time to get a rule.



, ,



  1. JimT Avatar

    So, now we are going to lose this bill because it restricts the activities of folks who despoil ancient kivas, or want to make a living stealing from the public lands, or loot old bones for museums? How would these folks feel if their cemeteries were raided for remains?

    Just when I think the Congress can’t get anymore dysfunctional, both sides of the aisle surprise me. Or is that depress me…

    Where oh where is the strong leadership of Mr. Big Hat, Ken Salazar on this? Sounds to me like John Salazar is wringing his hands, but doing nothing. Great.

  2. JimT Avatar

    Plus, I thought these that these kinds of activities are prohibited or regulated by the National Historic Preservation Act, or American Indian Religious Freedom Act?

  3. JimT Avatar

    Evidently, the folks who think private citizens should be able to remove valuable fossils from public lands and sell them with no one examining those activities are weighing in on this and muddying the waters. They are crying about “kids not being able to take a special arrowhead home without a permit”, but there is specific language in this bill…The Paleontological Resources Preservation Act…exempting such activities from permitting provisions. The opposition to the bill appears to be centered in Montana, Wyoming and South Dakota where some of the most valuable and complete dinosaur fossils have been found..on PUBLIC lands by private citizens who then appear to feel they are entitled to profit. It also is likely that folks who are opposed to this bill for other reasons are glomming on to this sector of opposition to kill the bill in the House.

    I know folks on this list are unhappy with some provision, but overall, it accomplishes more than it gives away, and it would be a shame for it to go down for this kind of DC debacle.

  4. Mike J Avatar
    Mike J

    This bill deserves to go down in flames and the individual parts can be debated and voted upon one by one. Not a single person reading this (or those asked to vote on the bill) have read it or can explain it, it is over 1300 pages at last count….it may indeed accomplish numerous good things but this is no way to manage our public lands nor to enact legislation….using this model congress may as well have one bill a year for every major subject and just go home after a few weeks of debate.

  5. Virginia Avatar

    The Public Lands Omnibus Bill was killed today by two votes (3-11-09).


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ralph Maughan