2000 Scorecard Vote
A provision added to the Fiscal Year 2001 House Interior appropriations bill by Representative George Nethercutt (R-WA) sought to expand a provision from the 1995 Contract With America, the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA), to include federal land use planning activities. SBREFA requires the federal government to ensure that its activities do not adversely impact small businesses. The Nethercutt amendment would have delayed completion of the Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Plan, an inter-agency effort to reverse the decline of Pacific Northwest salmon stocks and old-growth forests, by requiring the Forest Service to ensure that the plan did not adversely effect small businesses in the area.
While environmentalists do not, in general, support the Columbia Basin plan, they argued that the new language would set a dangerous precedent by requiring burdensome new analysis for any management plans on national forest land--and possibly on other public lands. Such plans already receive extensive analysis and public review under the National Environmental Policy Act and under the statutes of individual agencies. However, forest plans do not currently have to comply with the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act.
Representative Norm Dicks (D-WA) offered an amendment to strike the Columbia Basin provision and a harmful national monuments provision from the bill (see House vote 2). In response, Representative Nethercutt offered a substitute amendment to keep the language in the bill. On June 15, 2000, the House rejected the Nethercutt amendment by a vote of 206–221 (House roll call vote 279). NO is the pro-environment vote. Later that evening, the House leadership announced that there would be no more votes that night and many Representatives left for the day. Representative Nethercutt then introduced an amendment to restore his Columbia Basin language, which passed by a vote of 197 to 180. However, the provision was dropped from the bill in conference between the House and Senate in favor of another delaying tactic--a provision requiring federal agencies to show how the Columbia Basin plan will affect fire outbreaks in the region. The Interior conference report passed the House and Senate in October and was signed by the President.