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Steve D.
Republican MT

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  • Military Construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016—Motion to Proceed

    by Senator Steve Daines

    Posted on 2015-09-30

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    Read More about Military Construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016--Motion to Proceed

    DAINES. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

    Mr. DAINES. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to enter into a colloquy with Senators Ayotte, Alexander, Burr, Collins, and Gardner.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

    Land and Water Conservation Fund Mr. DAINES. Mr. President, Montana's national forests and public lands have been a pleasure and a part of our State's heritage for generations.

    As a fifth-generation Montanan and as someone who loves the outdoors, I recognize how valuable our public lands are and the importance of ensuring access for generations to come to hunting, backpacking and fishing--traditions that I, like many Montanans, have been thankful to pass along to my kids. I know firsthand the important role that the Land and Water Conservation Fund holds in protecting and increasing Montanans' access to our public lands.

    That is why since coming to Congress I have been actively working to secure funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund every year. In fact, through the appropriations process this summer, Senator Susan Collins and I successfully passed an amendment to increase the funding for the LWCF program by nearly $14 million. This brought the overall funding for LWCF to $306 million and ensured that LWCF did not lose out on work for permanent authorization.

    In Montana and throughout the country, the Land and Water Conservation [[Page S7023]] Fund plays a critical role in achieving the goal of increased access. Despite the tireless efforts and the work of Senators Burr, Collins, Ayotte, Alexander, and Gardner to move reauthorization forward, yet again today, the authorization for LWCF will expire tonight. The Continuing Resolution did not include a reauthorization for LWCF.

    Because LWCF is funded through royalties generated from offshore energy development, it is a fundamental tool to help preserve and protect Montanans' opportunity to enjoy hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation. In fact, during the August recess while I was back home in Montana, this is where I was: On the public lands of Montana. This is the Beartooth Wilderness area. This is my wife Cindy and our dog Ruby. I have my fly rod on my back. This is, in fact, up near Granite Peak, Montana's highest peak. That is over 10,000 feet where that picture was taken. It was a chance to enjoy our public lands--something that is an absolute treasure for the people of Montana and the people of our great country.

    LWCF keeps family ranches in the family and working. It is a fundamental tool that preserves and protects our opportunities to enjoy hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation. It keeps forests in productive use through the Forest Legacy Program, as in the Haskill Basin where my good friend Chuck Roady of Stoltz Land and Lumber works.

    That is why it is so disappointing that reauthorization was not included in the CR we voted on today.

    Under the current CR, LWCF will be funded, as will the rest of the Federal Government, through December 11. LWCF will be funded at fiscal year 2015 levels and all projects will continue as planned. However, any new deposits into the fund will stop tomorrow, on October 1.

    I have heard from many Montana businesses, outfitters, and guides who love the outdoors and are very concerned about the program's lapse in authorization. These small businesses rely on it for public access to Montana's treasured public lands for outdoor recreation which supports millions of dollars of revenue and hundreds of jobs for our State.

    Like Eric Grove of Great Divide Cyclery in Helena who has built his mountain bike business around the South Hills Trail System outside of Helena which was facilitated by LWCF. There are many other small businesses such as Eric's in Montana.

    Before being elected to the Senate, before coming to Congress, I spent more than 12 years growing a technology company in Bozeman. We were able to attract quality employees not only because we offered good-paying salaries, but also because of Montana's unparalleled quality of life. In fact, our slogan was ``work where you also like to play.'' The LWCF is a critical tool that facilitates recreation on our public lands, allowing Montana businesses to attract world class employees. We can't let it slip away.

    I remind the Members of the Senate, we passed the reauthorization of LWCF. We have that in the bipartisan energy bill that passed the Energy and Natural Resources Committee this year. I hope for cooperation from our friends across the aisle to bring that to the floor for a vote and move it forward in regular order, which is the way the Senate should operate.

    Now I wish to pause and yield to my distinguished colleague from the great State of New Hampshire, Senator Kelly Ayotte, who is also a big supporter of LWCF. I am glad she has come to the floor today and is joining me in our fight to make sure we keep LWCF reauthorized.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from New Hampshire.

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