House Resources Approves Heritage Area, Wild Horse Bill

Posted March 8, 2007 at 9:32am

Measures to create a multistate National Heritage Area and reinstate a controversial ban on the sale of wild horses are headed to the floor after clearing the House Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday.

The committee overcame an intraparty debate among Republicans to pass H.R. 319, which would create the Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Heritage Area in parts of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia to commemorate 175 miles of historic transportation routes. Included in the area are eight homes of former U.S. presidents, as well as Civil War battlefields, numerous historic landmarks and two World Heritage Sites. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), is supported by the governors of all four states.

But Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) has raised concerns over how the plan would affect property rights in his district. While Bartlett was not present at Wednesday’s markup, he sent a letter to the committee earlier this month reiterating his concerns, which also include local representation on a commission that would help manage the area. The Representative has offered his own bill, H.R. 1270, to create the area while addressing his concerns.

However, Natural Resources Chairman Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) declined entreaties from committee Republicans to hold off on the bill until more negotiations could be conducted with the lawmaker’s office.

The committee passed the bill on a voice vote after rejecting amendments by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) that would have restated a federal ban on lobbying with federal funds. Flake cited concerns that a nonprofit group involved with the project was the recipient of a $1 million earmark and that it was using that money to lobby Congress for the project — a potential violation of a federal law.

But Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) called the amendment “redundant,” noting that federal law already prevents such lobbying. The committee voted down the measure along party lines, 22-15, after Flake demanded a roll-call vote.

The committee also rejected an amendment by Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) that would have required the federal government to inform all people living in the area of the plan by first-class mail. That amendment also was defeated by a 22-15 vote along party lines after Pearce demanded a roll call.

The committee by a voice vote passed an amendment by Grijalva stripping property rights provisions from the bill. Grijalva and Rahall said that the language was unnecessary because federal heritage area designation does not affect property rights in any way. Committee Republicans argued that removal of the language “exacerbated” property rights concerns such as those of Bartlett.

Legislation sponsored by Rahall to reinstate a ban on the sale and slaughter of wild horses in the West also cleared the committee by voice vote. The bill, H.R. 249, reverses language in fiscal 2005 appropriations language that allowed the sale without restrictions of wild horse and burros managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Critics of the plan, whose champion was former Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), said that it cleared the way for the horses to be sold for commercial slaughter.

Flake withdrew an amendment that would have allowed BLM to continue to sell the animals but not for slaughter — something Rahall said would have rendered his legislation “moot” — after the chairman agreed to hold hearings on the matter.

Also passed Wednesday by voice votes were H.R. 162, which expands the boundaries of the Jean Laffite National Historical Park in Louisiana; H.R. 285, which would create a Steel Industry National Historic Site in Western Pennsylvania; H.R. 309, a bill allowing units of the National Park System to retain profits from the sale of timber cleared at military history sites; H.R. 865, which grants a rural electrical cooperative in Alaska rights of way over American Indian land; and H.R. 886, which designates more than 100,000 acres of federal land north of Seattle as wilderness area.

The committee did not take up H.R. 505, a bill by Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), which provides a process for the reorganizing of the single Native Hawaiian governing entity. A committee spokeswoman said the bill was not ready in time for the markup.

Recorded Votes

Journey Through Hallowed Ground Heritage Area

Flake amendment restating a federal ban on lobbying with federal funds

Tally: 22 No, 15 Yes, 11 not voting

Democrats

N Rahall

N Kildee

N Pallone

N Christensen

N Napolitano

N Holt

N Grijalva

N Bordallo

N Costa

N Boren

N Sarbanes

N Miller

N DeFazio

N Hinchey

N Kennedy

N Capps

N Inslee

N Udall

N Baca

N Solis

N Herseth

N Shuler

Republicans

Y Young

Y Gilchrest

Y Calvert

Y Brown

Y Fortuño

Y Jindal

Y Gohmert

Y Bishop

Y Shuster

Y Flake

Y Renzi

Y Pearce

Y Heller

Y Sali

Y Lamborn

Journey Through Hallowed Ground Heritage Area

Pearce amendment requiring first-class mail notification of local residents of heritage area

Tally: 22 No, 15 Yes, 11 not voting

Democrats

N Rahall

N Kildee

N Pallone

N Christensen

N Napolitano

N Holt

N Grijalva

N Bordallo

N Costa

N Boren

N Sarbanes

N Miller

N DeFazio

N Hinchey

N Kennedy

N Capps

N Inslee

N Udall

N Baca

N Solis

N Herseth

N Shuler

Republicans

Y Young

Y Gilchrest

Y Calvert

Y Brown

Y Fortuño

Y Jindal

Y Gohmert

Y Bishop

Y Shuster

Y Flake

Y Renzi

Y Pearce

Y Heller

Y Sali

Y Lamborn