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Politics & Government

How An Amendment About Sage Grouse Is Holding Up The National Defense Bill

sage grouse, in flight, birds
Bryant Olsen
Flickr Creative Commons
Sage grouse in flight. The species came close to landing on the Endangered Species List in 2015, but instead the federal government put forth land management plans to protect the bird's critical habitat in western states.

Congress has returned to work after the Thanksgiving recess. One of the big items on the docket during the lame duck session is the passage of a $602-billion defense bill. But an amendment by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) has helped to stall its passage, tying the debate over the greater sage grouse to Pentagon funding.

The Republican aims to halt land management policies put in place to safeguard the greater sage grouse in states like Idaho and Utah, while keeping the bird off the Endangered Species List. John Freemuth of the Andrus Center for Public Policy says Bishop’s amendment doesn’t come as a surprise. 

“Representative Bishop," says Freemuth, "who seems to be, in my opinion, the outlier here in all of this – gives the sense that he just wants to win everything. That he wants to not list the sage grouse, [and] prohibit science from even being involved in that discussion.”

Freemuth says even if Bishop’s sage grouse amendment is removed, it’s not clear what the future holds for the land management plans. President-elect Donald Trump has not yet indicated if his administration will continue to enforce the Obama administration rules, or if he’ll instead roll back these protections.

Find Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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