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LAME DUCK CONGRESS VOTES DEC. 7TH

Land Rights Network
Dec. 2, 2004

Congress Sets Another Lame Duck Session

Late Night, Back Room, Rushed Decisions Dangerous

It’s hard to believe but Congress is coming back for another Lame Duck Session December 7th. Pearl Harbor Day. Another possible sneak attack.

Action Items Listed Below

All landowners, ranchers, inholders and other allies must work hard to make sure there is no sneak attack on your rights next week.

The focus of the coming Lame Duck Session is to finalize Appropriations Bills including those for agencies you care about. They may take up the Terrorism bill.

Congress often attaches riders to large bills like these that have nothing to do with the bills themselves but sneak by while everyone is looking the other way. This is a common practice and a threat to you.

To speed things up, Congress also sets up a “unanimous consent calendar” by which the bills are considered by only four or five Representatives or Senators on the House or Senate floor with advance agreement that there will be no objection.

Deals are made to look the other way and allow certain bills to slip by. A lot of bills that have hurt you have passed this way. This system also allows Representatives and Senators to avoid having a recorded vote so they cannot be held responsible for individual votes.

This gives your Representative and Senators even more power if they have the courage to take it. They can object or put a hold on a bill (Senate) thereby keeping it from passing under unanimous consent. There is not enough time to debate and vote on the bills individually.

It’s critical that your Representative and Senators hear from you by Monday, December 6th about the bills listed below. Ask them to object or put a hold on the following bills to prevent them from being snuck by in the dark of night.

Insist on a recorded vote on any of these measures. Some of them may not even be coming to a vote, but you, and we, have no idea which ones will and which ones won’t for sure. That is why it is important that your calls put your Representative or Senator on notice that you are watching closely and that he or she will be held accountable for any actions taken by them.

These bills could be voted on in Congress when they come back December 7th.

  1. S 1521 There is a MONSTER Heritage Area land grab making its way through the Senate. It takes a whole lot of other Heritage Area bills and puts them together. By the time you read this, S. 1521 will probably already have passed the Senate. SO WE MUST STOP IT IN THE HOUSE!

    There are a lot of bill numbers being thrown around. When you talk to the staff member, ask about the huge Heritage Areas bill, whatever the number is. They’ll know what you mean.

    It appears they will use the Senate bill number (S 1521) in the House for this giant bill. The original House bill was HR 280.

    You may be able to convince your Representative to object to S 1521, it is likely the bill will not go forward. Proponents may go to your Representative and try to offer him something he wants in exchange so he will remove his objection, so we need to get a number of Members of Congress to object to have a chance to stop S 1521. That is up to you. If you call, you have a good chance to win. Your Representative will rarely have as much power to stop bad legislation as he does right now. PLEASE CALL NOW.

  2. S 476 – A special tax break for The Nature Conservancy and other land trusts. S 476, the “Faith Based Initiative,” was hijacked by the greens for a land trust tax break. We defeated the 50% tax break in the House but the 25% tax break passed in the Senate. Talk to both your Reps. And Senators about opposing this special tax break in Conference Committee.

  3. CARA Clones – GO Act (HR 4100) in the House (Get Out Of Rural America Act) – Americans Outdoors Act (S 2590) in the Senate. Both of these bills will lead to a $3 billion per year off budget trust fund that is mostly available to buy land and drive you off your land. These are not likely to come to a vote, but they could. Your calls could be the difference.

  4. S 347, “Rim of the Valley” in the House. The House is using the Senate number. S 347 has already passed the Senate. It would lead to a huge new Federal land grab area in California of over 491,000 acres, 206,000 acres of private land. S 347 will likely cost over $2 billion making it America’s most expensive national park. Its claim to fame is the area burns every five years.

  5. S 1355, Wallowa Dam land and water grab in the House. The House is again using the Senate number. The Wallowa Valley in Eastern Oregon is a model for nationwide land and water grabs. If Congress passes S 1355, it will set a precedent for funding the repair or replacement of a private dam with Federal dollars. Over $40 million.

There are over 10,000 other dams like it nationwide. This will cost the government far more than just the money needed to fix the Wallowa dam. S 1355 gives an Indian tribe private control of the fish facilities at the dam. It brings in Endangered Salmon regulations. There is no need. Local interests are willing to put up the money to fix the dam. They don’t want to trade away their future or tie up all their land in endangered species (salmon) regulations.

**Action to Take Immediately**

  1. Call your own Representative and Senators and tell them to oppose S. 1521, S 476 and the others. Simply dial the Capitol Hill Switchboard at (202) 225-3121 and ask for your Representative by name. When you speak to the staff person in charge of each bill, ask for their fax number.

  2. Call House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and ask him to oppose these bills as well. Ask him to use his clout to get his colleagues to oppose them as well. Heritage Areas are federal zoning! Heritage Areas are federal land grabs! Heritage Areas endanger property rights! Rep. DeLay's phone number is (202) 225-5951 or (202) 225-4000. PLEASE CALL NOW! His FAX number is (202) 225-5117. E-mail him at http://tomdelay.house.gov/

  3. Call House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo and ask him to oppose these bills and urge his colleagues to do the same. He has the power to do it. Rep. Pombo's phone number is (202) 225-1947. PLEASE CALL NOW! Chairman Pombo’s FAX number is (202) 225-5929. E-mail at resources.committee@mail.house.gov .

  4. Call House Speaker Dennis Hastert and tell him to vote NO on S. 1521 and to encourage his colleagues to do the same. Speaker Hastert's phone number is (202) 225-2976 or (202) 225-0600. His Speakers office FAX number is (202) 226-1996. E-mail is speaker@mail.house.gov.

Because of the shortness of time, FAX and phone calls are your most effective tool at this point.

Because President Bush got re-elected, and the Republicans control the House and Senate, you may feel you can let down. Actually, the opposite is true. Generally speaking, you are better off with the seats of government controlled by Republicans; but there are issues in which you can get hurt.

There is a natural tension that exists when different parties control either the Presidency or one of the Houses of Congress. When one party controls all, favors get done and deals get made. If there is a partisan split, your Congressman will usually stay with the party. This tends to slow the process.

Senator Lamar Alexander, a very liberal Republican from Tennessee will re-introduce his CARA Clone bill in January. It could sneak by this week, but that’s unlikely. Other Republicans will have a tendency to go along when they might otherwise not if it was offered up by a Democrat.

So there you have it. We’re better off where we are today with the Republicans in charge, but it is not a perfect world. As Thomas Jefferson said, “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”

ALRA is going out early after Congress to slow down the CARA Clones and the other bills listed before Congress comes back in January. All will be re-introduced in Congress in January if we are fortunate enough to kill them this time around. The CARA Clones and S 476 are particularly onerous and together make the greatest threat to you since the Endangered Species Act.

ALRA is mailing hundreds of thousands of letters, e-mails and faxes to alert ranchers, inholders and landowners nationwide about the threat of the $3 billion per year land acquisition trust fund and the big Nature Conservancy tax dodge.

The key to our success in holding these bills back has been the teamwork of hundreds of organizations and thousands of landowners and Federal land users who have pitched in to support this effort. Your support is critical to allow ALRA to be able to afford to alert your allies and keep them informed.

Let’s all pull together to prevent a sneak attack in the vulnerable Lame Duck session of Congress.

Please make your calls. Call your friends.

Please forward this message as widely as possible.


Land Rights Network
American Land Rights Association
PO Box 400 - Battle Ground, WA 98604
Phone: 360-687-3087 - Fax: 360-687-2973 -
E-mail: alra@landrights.org or alra@governance.net
Web Address: http://www.landrights.org
Legislative Office:
507 Seward Square SE - Washington, DC 20003
Phone: 202-210-2357 - Fax: 202-543-7126
email: landrightsnet@aol.com

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