January 20, 2016, was a banner day for sportsmen as the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act (S. 659) passed out of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee on a bipartisan vote that finally sends the landmark legislation to the Senate floor for a vote to protect and advance opportunities for hunting, shooting and fishing across America.
As reported by American Hunter last year, the ball started rolling in February with the introduction of the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act of 2015 in the U.S. Senate by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). While this important compendium of pro-hunting provisions had been passed by the House, it was blocked in the Senate for years. Thanks in part to NRA-ILA mobilizing sportsmen to get out the vote in 2014, several pro-hunting Senators were elected, creating a change in chamber leadership that marked the bill's best possible chance of passing both chambers of Congress. Last March, after testimonies before Congress from NRA, SCI, the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation and other organizations, the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act was split for two markups. In addition to S. 659, S. 556 was reviewed in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and passed by a huge margin in November.
“With S. 659 reported from the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last November, the EPW’s recent vote to favorably report the bill from committee clears the way for this package of sportsmen’s bills to come to the Senate floor," said Susan Recce, director of NRA-ILA Conservation, Wildlife and Natural Resources. "A similar package in the House is also awaiting floor action. The NRA will continue to work diligently to get these important provisions passed through Congress and signed into law.”
With the preservation of our Second Amendment freedoms and hunting heritage at the foundation of NRA’s mission, NRA-ILA explains the legislation is a compilation of legislative efforts designed to decrease the regulations that prevent sportsmen from enjoying our outdoor heritage. S. 659 includes the Hunting, Fishing, and Recreational Shooting Protection Act (adding lead fishing tackle to the list of exempted products from EPA regulation); Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act; Polar Bear Conservation and Fairness Act; Farmer and Hunter Protection Act; protecting the right to bear arms at water-resource development projects; and the reauthorization of the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and Multinational Species Conservation Funds Act.
Among new provisions added to the bill on Jan. 20 were the authorization of Fish Habitat Conservation Act; reauthorization of the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act; and an amendment to uphold the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisting of the Great Lakes region and Wyoming gray wolves from the Endangered Species Act.
Visit nraila.org for more details on the key provisions of this landmark legislation.