WASHINGTON — Alabama’s senators split along party lines June 10 on a vote to start debate on HR 1957, which would greatly increase financial support of federal land agencies including the National Park Service and boost U.S. government funding of federal, state and local efforts to purchase and protect unspoiled acreage. The Senate agreed in a 79-18 vote to debate the bill, which is expected to come up this week.
To address the deterioration of hundreds of national parks and related areas in recent decades, the bill would allocate up to $6.5 billion over five years for repairs and maintenance, with funding to come mainly from payments to the Treasury by oil, gas and renewable-energy companies. The bill also would guarantee a $900 million annual budget for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which provides federal and non-federal agencies with funds for acquiring and conserving undeveloped land. The LWCF is largely funded by fees and royalties collected from energy firms engaged in offshore drilling operations.
Cory Gardner, R-Colo., said: “This is an economic and jobs package as much as it is a conservation package. For every $1 million we spend in the Land and Water Conservation Fund, it supports between 16 and 30 jobs. It is our chance to not only protect our environment, to catch up on deferred maintenance, but also to grow our economy when our economy needs the growth.”
No senator spoke against the bill.
A yes vote was to advance the bill toward expected final passage.
Voting yes: Doug Jones, D
Voting no: Richard Shelby, R
Confirming Charles Brown as Air Force Chief:
In a unanimous vote of 98 for and none against, the Senate on June 9 confirmed Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. as U.S. Air Force chief of staff. The four-star general becomes the first African American to lead a U.S. military service and will leave his post as commander of the Pacific Air Forces to assume the four-year term. A command pilot, Brown has recorded more than 2,900 flying hours including 130 hours in combat. There was no Senate floor debate on the nomination.
A yes vote was to confirm Brown to lead the Air Force.
Voting yes: Shelby, Jones
Voting no: None
KEY VOTES AHEAD
The Senate will resume debate in the week of June 15 on a funding bill for the National Park Service and Land and Water Conservation Fund, while the House will be in recess. The House is expected to take up a bill reforming policing practices in the week of June 22.