A leading Senate Republican says he doesn’t support a House GOP plan to reform a federal conservation program, leaving lawmakers without a clear path forward.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who has authored a bill to reauthorize the now-lapsed Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), said Tuesday that the House and Senate are “to some degree, at loggerheads” over the fund.
House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) proposed a bill last week that would renew the program while giving states more control over the way the money is spent. Burr has pushed to renew the LWCF as is.
“I respect the fact that [Bishop] finally put something out there,” Burr said in an interview Tuesday. “It doesn’t live in the spirit of why LWCF was created and I think the claims that he’s made just don’t hold water about how the LWCF has been used.”
Burr said lawmakers could work on changes to the program in a joint House and Senate conference committee but that his preference is renewing it rather than overhauling it, as Bishop has proposed.
“I think you can accomplish a lot in conference, but I certainly haven’t seen any willingness on their part to recognize that Land and Water Conservation Fund is the most successful federal program that we’ve had, and for 50 years, people have embraced it with confidence,” he said. “I’ve never found a reason to change a program that actually does that.”
Bishop and other Western Republicans have criticized the LWCF as giving the federal government too much power to purchase new land.