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The sportsmen's measure is a collection of bills on issues ranging from hunting and fishing to migratory bird conservation.
"If you flip to the dictionary and found the word 'bipartisan,' part of that definition would be the Tester sportsman's package because it's a Republican-Democratic bill," Reid said. "It involves hunters and fishers and other sportsmen, off-road vehicles. It is really a good piece of legislation for a group of people who are totally unrecognized here, most of the time."
Tester is facing a tight re-election contest against his challenger, GOP Rep. Denny Rehberg. A Tester victory would help Reid in his quest to maintain hold of the Majority Leader's office. Reid and Tester also share interest in the recreation issues, since both hail from largely rural states.
Tester likely needs to win backing from some Montana Republicans who will split their tickets and back Mitt Romney for president. Romney could win the state by double digits.
Reid tried to pass the sportmen's bill Wednesday by unanimous consent, but Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) objected to move, seeking to attach an amendment regarding a land exchange for a copper mine in Arizona. Tester called Kyl's amendment an excuse. "I don't think the story's been settled yet," he said.
Reid set a Sunday cloture vote on taking up the Tester bill unless an agreement is reached.
The sportsmen's bill currently sits in line behind the continuing resolution, which must pass to avoid shutting down the government on Oct. 1. Reid took a series of procedural moves to set up a 1 a.m. Saturday cloture vote on that stopgap measure and block a deluge of amendments.
Kyle Trygstad contributed to this report.