Sportsmen’s Act Hits Roadblock in the U.S. Senate

U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance
U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance

Columbus, OH –-( The Senate version of the Sportsmen’s Act of 2012 struck a roadblock last Monday night when it ran afoul of budget rules.

The latest version of this bill – a Reid-Tester substitute amendment – included provisions allowing for federal spending in excess of the budget limitations adopted last year by Congress. These spending features prompted a “point of order” to be raised against the package and a Tester motion to waive the point of order (proceed with the amendment even though it violates budget limitations). Tester’s motion did not pass. New efforts are underway to see if the substitute amendment can be modified to address the budget problems and enable it to be passed before Congress adjourns.

The Senate version of this bill was introduced by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) as S. 3525 and included a variety of other bills including measures to protect hunting, fishing, and shooting on federal lands as well as protect continued use of traditional ammunition and fishing tackle. Additional modifications were made prior to Monday’s action and these changes were offered in the substitute amendment by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Tester.

Earlier this year the U.S. House of Representatives passed overwhelming its version of the Sportsmen’s Bill – H.R. 4089. Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) was the primary sponsor. The House bill included the traditional ammunition/fishing tackle protection feature, provisions for shooting ranges, authorization to import limited numbers of polar bear trophies and a very important Title establishing that 700 million acres of federal lands, managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service, are open to hunting, fishing, and shooting unless specifically closed or restricted by particular agency action.

The Senate leadership decided not to act on that House-passed measure. Instead, Reid and Tester assembled their substitute amendment which includes (a) three parts of House bill (ammunition/fishing tackle protection; shooting ranges; polar bears), and (b) many other features not part of the House bill (e.g., federal land exchange facilitation; fishery habitat protection; wetlands acquisition reauthorization; increasing the price of federal duck stamps) but (c) does not incorporate the open until closed designation for BLM and Forest lands. Majority Leader Reid also decided to not allow any other amendments to be offered on the Senate floor besides the Reid-Tester substitute.

The spending portions of the Reid-Tester amendment prompted the budget objections that the full Senate declined to waive on Monday night.

“While this doesn’t outright kill chances for passage this year, it does significantly complicate matters,” said Evan Heusinkveld, USSA’s Director of State Services. “There is still time to renegotiate a package of bills that will satisfy the needs of sportsmen and women while satisfying previously adopted federal spending limitations. We hope that Democrat-led Senate and Republican-led House can work through their partisan differences to pass the Sportsmen’s Act this Congress.”

As noted, the substitute amendment to S. 3525 has important provisions including:

  • Confirms that the Toxic Substances Control Act does not allow federal EPA to ban or regulate the use of traditional lead ammunition or fishing tackle; this means that anti-hunting groups cannot use federal courts to force EPA to ban such ammunition or tackle.
  • Facilitates the construction of new shooting ranges on federal lands.
  • Allows the import from Canada of 41 polar bear trophies that were taken legally before the bears were put on the endangered species list.

Senate 3525 and HR 4089 are supported by the nation’s leading hunting and conservation organization’s including: the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the National Rifle Association, National Wild Turkey Federation, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Masters of Foxhounds Association, and many others.

About:The U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance is a national association of sportsmen and sportsmen’s organizations that protects the rights of hunters, anglers and trappers in the courts, legislatures, at the ballot, in Congress and through public education programs. Visit