House Votes Down Omnibus Public Lands Bill

Its consideration under the “suspension of the rules” procedure was its downfall. A 2/3 vote is required-

House Votes Down Omnibus Public Lands Bill. House rules requiring a two-thirds vote proved to be its undoing. By Bill Schneider. New West

The vote was 282 in favor and 144 against.

I still don’t know why they didn’t consider the bill under “regular order” and with a “closed rule” (a closed allows no amendments). The Washington Post says regular order is too complicated, but I don’t see how. House Defeats Bill to Protect Wilderness Areas. By Juliet Eilperin. Washington Post Staff Writer.

I think the bill will come up against in the House. It was passed the Senate.

– – – – –

3/12. Much more on the temporary(?) derailment of the bill.

House Rejects Massive Public Lands Protection Package. ENS
Ill-fated Rocky Mountain National Park bill snagged again. Wilderness designation held up by rules change.|
Proposal that would protect public wild lands in Oregon and across the nation loses in the House by two votes. By Charles Pope. Oregonian.
‘Temporary setback’ for Wyoming Range bill. By John Barron. Casper Star Tribune.
Southern Oregon wilderness push hits snag. Public lands bill with proposed Soda Mountain and Copper Salmon areas fails. By Paul Fattig.
In Colorado: Coffman, Lamborn blasted for vote on wilderness. Aspen Times.


  1. Brian Ertz Avatar

    Here’s to the gun-nuts on this one !

    Maybe we’ll get it under regular order and get some amendments that rip out the terrible Owyhee Initiative

    1. DB Avatar

      Other than wishing and hoping, how would we ever get the Owyhee Initiative out of a new house bill? I don’t think Minnick would buck Simpson and Crapo on this, although I guess it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

      1. Brian Ertz Avatar

        it’s a wish and a hope – Minnick has touted the OI as a representative example of his approach to natural resource issues – i.e. faux “Collaboration”.

        it’d be a principled “outsider” if any change were to be made – and it’s already pretty much already happened to be honest, the OI part of the bill only remotely looks like the same one as was drafted by the collaborative — it was rewritten (by an “outsider” no-less) with most of the egregious give-aways and watered down wilderness provisions stripped out with the change-up of Congress – despite the willingness of local “greens” to sell the farm out anyway ! the bill only remains palatable to the Owyhee ranching klan because they’re so scared of a potential monument designation.

        the bill will likely pass eventually – and those collaborative folk (ICL, Rocky Barker, all the politicos, TWS, etc.) will celebrate their “collaborative” OI victory in the press – without ever a mention of all the rotten fruit of that whole process being amputated despite.

  2. Jim Macdonald Avatar

    They don’t want to amend the bill because then it would have to go back to the Senate where they had some trouble breaking a filibuster.

    I don’t know what the House rules are for closing off amendments; I wonder if they set it up so that now requires a 2/3 vote, but my suspicion is that will be the case. Either they simply come up with a bloc to reject all amendments, even good ones, or they try again to get the 2/3, or they pass it with amendments and pray it doesn’t die in the Senate, which it would be likely to do.

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Regular order in the House requires a “special rule” from the House Rules Committee. This rule, which takes the form of a House Resolution, specifies whether a bill is open to all amendments (an open rule), some or certain kinds of amendments (modified rule), or none at all (closed rule). It also sets the time allowed for debate, and it might waive points of order.

    After the Rules Committee reports the rule to floor, there is a vote on the adoption of the rule. The rule usually passes. If the rule passes, then debate takes place under the terms specified in the rule. Then the vote is taken on the bill.

    Filibusters are not allowed in the House.

    The Rules Committee is regarded as the Speaker’s Committee. The majority on the committee generally do what he or she wants, or there are reprisals.

    It seems to me that they will want to consider the bill under a closed rule.

    Open rules have, in fact, become relatively rare.

    Link to the House Committee on Rules.

    Here is a link to a current “modified” or “structured” rule so they folks can get an idea what is in a rule.

  4. pc Avatar

    Bill looks ok, not as much fluff as typical house bills:

    It still might have a chance once it is beefed up with opposing voters agendas.


  5. JimT Avatar

    Here is an article from the CQ on the plans of the Senate if I can get it to tranfer Hard to believe we govern a country with such arcane procedures……

    Senate to Revisit Federal Lands Bill to Overcome House Obstacles

    By Avery Palmer, CQ Staff

    The Senate will revisit an omnibus federal lands bill next week, in an apparent effort to work around parliamentary obstacles that have held up the measure in the House.

    Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the Senate will take up a new version of a “wildly popular” bill that would designate vast new areas of federal wilderness. The Senate will vote March 16 on limiting debate on the measure unless senators can reach agreement to pass it by voice vote. This is unlikely, since Tom Coburn, R‑Okla., held up the legislation for months in the previous Congress.

    When asked if he planned to renew his objection to the measure when Reid attempts to bring it back to the floor, Coburn said, “You bet.” He said he would block any attempt to pass the lands bill by voice vote.

    The original bill (S 22) passed the Senate Jan. 15 by a vote of 73-21. But it has stalled in the House, in part because opponents were expected to force awkward votes through either amendments or a motion to recommit.

    The House attempted to pass the bill March 10 under suspension of the rules, which prohibits amendments and requires a two-thirds majority for passage. The vote failed, 282-144, two votes shy of the number needed.

    A Reid spokesman said the Senate will add the legislation to a separate House-passed bill (HR 146) that would authorize grants to protect historic battlefields. If the Senate passes it with the lands bill attached, the House can either concur with the legislation or send it back to the Senate again.

    Avoiding a Motion to Recommit

    One advantage of this strategy would be that House Republicans could not try to amend the bill at the last minute through a procedural motion to recommit. The GOP was expected to bring up a motion on a politically sensitive issue that would be a difficult vote for the majority.

    But according to the House parliamentarian’s office, that option is no longer available when the Senate sends back a bill that the other body already passed.

    The Senate’s new version of the bill will also include language that House Democrats attempted to add to assuage concerns about gun rights. It specifies that the bill will not restrict access for hunting, fishing or trapping activities that are otherwise allowed by law, and also that it would not affect state authority to regulate these activities.

    Despite this move in the Senate, House leaders say they have not decided how they will take up the bill.

     “We may bring it up either by rule or by suspension,” said House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md. The Senate, he said, “may move on it as well, so that there are a number of options for us to pursue. And as you will not be surprised, we are going to pursue the one we think is most successful.”

    Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, R‑Calif., who supports the bill, said it might have passed under suspension of the rules — with a little more effort from the leadership. “I don’t know why they closed the vote that fast,” he said. “If they had kept it open a little longer I think we could have got it.”

    Jim Marshall of Georgia, one of three House Democrats who voted against the bill, said his objection was that a bill of this size and complexity should move through regular order. “It sort of caught us by surprise,” he said.

    Doc Hastings of Washington, the ranking Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee, said Democrats should allow the minority to bring up and debate amendments. “I think the process is wrong again,” Hastings said.

    Catharine Richert and Kathleen Hunter contributed to this story.


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