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The Dream Act

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. TESTER. Mr. President, I rise to speak on the bill that is going to be dealt with here at the bottom of the hour, S. 3525, the sportsmen's package. This is a landmark bill. It includes ideas from members of both parties and from both Chambers. Over 50 national sports and conservation organizations support this bill, ranging from the Nature Conservancy to the NRA. Some 20 provisions included in this bill will help expand access to public lands, support additional habitat conservation, and preserve the hunting and fishing rights millions of Americans cherish. There has been much discussion about this bill, with many people weighing in. The fact is that this is a responsible bipartisan bill that will reduce the deficit by $5 million while expanding hunting and fishing opportunities for millions of Americans.

I appreciate the perspective of the ranking member of the Budget Committee on the issue of whether to raise a point of order. I know he has to defend the Budget Act. However, the reality is this: This bill reduces the debt by $5 million over 10 years. Those aren't my figures; those are the figures of the Congressional Budget Office. Unfortunately, a vote to sustain the point of order made by Senator Sessions is a vote to kill this important bipartisan legislation. We have had plenty of partisanship already here today on the Senate floor. I think it is time to do something in a bipartisan fashion and do something that is good for some 90 million Americans who consider themselves hunters and anglers.

I urge my colleagues to waive the budget point of order and then approve this important bill.

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Mr. TESTER. Mr. President, I want to thank the ranking member of the Budget Committee for his comments.

Look, folks, this is a bill about habitat. It is a bill about access. It is a bill about opportunity for people who enjoy our outdoors in this country. The outdoor economy is some $600 billion a year.

I have heard many times spoken on the Senate floor, if we are going to get the deficit and the debt under control, we have to grow our economy. This is about growing our economy. How? By allowing hunters, fishermen, outdoor activists the opportunity to go out and utilize the great outdoors this country has to offer in Montana and throughout this country.

We are losing habitat every day. We have lost access to habitat for hunting and fishing and hiking. This bill will fix that.

I will go back to the point Senator Sessions made. When I go back home, folks talk to me about the debt. They talk to me about the deficit. They ask what we can do to fix it. Quite frankly, this is one of those things we can do to fix it. By increasing opportunities for our outdoorsmen and women in this country, we have the opportunity to increase our economy in a very positive way.

Like I said, when we talk about the duck stamps, those dollars go in to be used for promoting opportunities in duck hunting. Those moneys will not be going into funding the war in Afghanistan. The money coming in basically goes out for a specific purpose.

By the way, the folks who utilize the duck stamp want this money bumped up. That is why we give the Secretary this discretion.

With that, I yield the floor back to the Senator from Alabama.

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