Lands Bill Continues to Haunt Reid

Posted March 11, 2009 at 1:10pm

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) public lands bill nightmare is not over yet.

House Democrats on Wednesday came two votes shy of passing the massive package, a year-long thorn in Reid’s side as Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) consistently blocked it.

Reid on Jan. 11 used a rare Sunday session — the chamber’s first vote of the new Congress — to put his expanded majority to work muscling the measure past Coburn’s opposition and sending the bill to the House.

And now the House plans to send it back to the Senate for changes.

“We expect the Senate to send us a new bill we can pass,— a senior Democratic aide said.

The measure gathered 282 votes but needed 284 to muster the two-thirds majority required under the fast-track procedure House Democrats used to tee it up. 248 Democrats were joined by 34 Republicans in support, but three Democrats defected, handing 141 Republicans the numbers they needed to bring the measure down.

The aide said Democratic leaders are not willing to bring the measure up under a rule, because its sprawling scope — the package is in fact a hodgepodge of more than 100 smaller bills covering lands in Nevada, Wyoming and other western states — presents too many opportunities for Republicans to create mischief with an alternative.