Still Time for Rivers to Benefit in the Lame Duck

I have a sense of déjà vu this month as another session of Congress quickly comes to a close with a logjam of un-passed water and land bills still awaiting votes in the Senate.

Just like late in 2008, the House and Senate Committees have approved dozens of environmental bills that will significantly benefit rivers, estuaries, lands, and wildlife across the nation. These bills just need final votes to cross the finish line. But with time running out for the 111th Congress we’ll need more than a little luck and a lot of help from folks across the country to end this Congress the way we began, with the signing of a landmark conservation bill that protects rivers across the country.

The primary hold up for these bills is the Senate rules that give individual Senators the power to stop any bill they want- unless 60 Senators vote in favor of the bill. In today’s highly charged political Congress, this has prevented almost all water, land and wildlife bills from being voted on by the Senate. The fate of these bills depends on Senate and House Leadership allowing all these bills to be rolled together into a larger package that enough Senators and Representatives could support.  

Rivers and communities across the nation stand to benefit from a package like this. Many bills that could be included would help individual rivers like the Molalla River in Oregon, which the Molalla River Alliance has tirelessly advocated to protect by designating as a National Wild and Scenic River. Or the North Fork Flathead River in Montana which was named one of our 2009 Most Endangered Rivers because of the threat of mining in its headwaters. Other bills like the Sewage Overflow Community Right to Know Act would benefit communities across the nation by protecting public health. 

Next week Congress returns to DC for the first of two lame duck sessions where they’ll finish up the work of the 111th Congress. American Rivers is encouraging Senators and Representatives to tell Senator Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that they want to vote on a water, lands and wildlife bill that would benefit communities and rivers across the country before they go home for the year. Help us by contacting your Members of Congress and tell them to represent your voice by telling Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi to pass a water, lands, and wildlife package.