1998 Scorecard Vote
America's public lands are an integral part of its heritage, providing benefits for wildlife, water quality, and recreation. Because these lands are so valuable, Members of Congress have occasionally attempted to exchange or sell them to generate short-term budget revenues. Conservationists argue that the occasional disposal of public lands may be in the public interest but that such decisions should not be driven by the short-term need for revenues that a budget would dictate. Parcels of public land should either be exchanged for land of great natural value, or, if they are sold, the resulting revenues should be dedicated to acquiring and protecting other outstanding lands. Environmentalists believe that our public lands should be managed for long-term benefit, not short-term gain.
The Senate version of the Fiscal Year 1999 budget resolution, S. Con. Res. 86, proposes to raise revenues from the sale of lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management. The revenues would be used to provide private landowners with incentives for proactive efforts to conserve endangered species. While conservationists are generally supportive of these incentives, they should be funded through sustainable, long-term revenue mechanisms rather than sales of public land.
During floor consideration of the budget resolution, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) offered an amendment expressing the sense of the Senate that no public lands should be sold to finance the landowner incentives program for endangered species conservation. Sen. Dirk Kempthorne (R-ID) offered a secondary amendment to modify the Reid amendment in order to keep public lands as a funding source.
On April 2, 1998, the Kempthorne amendment to the Reid amendment was adopted, 55 - 43. NO is the pro-environment vote. The Reid amendment, as modified by Sen. Kempthorne, was subsequently adopted by voice vote.