Wilderness Bill Stumbles in Washington

The Eastern Sierra Wild Heritage Act, which would create over 400,000 acres of new designated wilderness on local lands, has hit a stumbling block in Washington.

congressman_mckeon.jpgBundled up into a larger collection of bills known as the Omnibus Land Management Act of 2009, the larger bill has passed the Senate but was two votes shy of passage when the House of Representatives voted on the bill Wednesday.

Despite this vote, Bob Haueter with Congressman Buck McKeons office says the Congressman is confident the bill will eventually be passed.

Haueter explained that the House was trying to pass the bill with what is known as a confidence vote, usually reserved for bills that have no opposition. When a bill is up for a confidence vote, the house does not debate the bill, no amendments can be made, but the bill requires two thirds of the house to approve. The vote Wednesday was two votes short at 282 voting in favor and 144 voting against.

From here, Haueter expects the bill to come back under the regular rules where members of Congress can debate and make changes. Normal rules mean just over half of Congress has to approve the bill, rather then the two-thirds vote needed under the confidence vote.

Haueter says that McKeon is confident the bill will pass. 282 members of Congress voted for the bill as it stands now under the confidence vote. Only 218 have to approve under the normal rules. Hauterer says that this bill may pass within the next two weeks.

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