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National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 - Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. President, I rise in support of the Sportsmen's Act of 2012, which is Senate bill No. 3525. This bill is a set of bipartisan proposals that enjoys overwhelming support in the sportsmen's community, and I was glad to see it clear another procedural hurdle just a short time ago. As the majority leader did, I urge my colleagues to give it final approval as quickly as we possibly can.

I wish to share some of the reasons why I think it is so important to get this bill to the President's desk. As the name implies, the Sportsmen's Act is focused on helping the Nation's 88 million sports men and women. They want, more than anything, responsible access to Federal lands and the conservation of critical habitat and species and that is exactly what this bill does.

By dedicating 1.5 percent of Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars to improve access for hunting, fishing, and other recreational purposes, sportsmen will be able to make better use of our public lands. By giving the States greater flexibility over the use of Federal dollars to build shooting ranges, sportsmen will have more places to safely sharpen their marksmanship skills and sighting their rifles for the hunting season.

By reauthorizing many critical habitat investment programs--for example, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act--we are ensuring that sportsmen will have places to continue our proud hunting and fishing heritage.

The benefits of the Sportsmen's Act of 2012 will fall most directly on America's hunters and anglers, but outdoor enthusiasts of all stripes will reap the rewards. By improving the outdoor experience of all Americans, I am hoping future generations will more readily take up our outdoor traditions.

I know my colleague from Colorado will join me in commending Senator Tester for putting this package together. He has taken ideas from both Democrats and Republicans to create the greatest legislative boon for sportsmen in a generation, and that is why over 50 of the leading sportsmen's groups in our country support his bill.

I am particularly grateful to Senator Tester for including a bipartisan provision I authored--the Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act. This act will encourage the development of high-quality public shooting ranges by giving the States greater flexibility over Federal dollars they already receive for certain wildlife restoration and hunter education programs.

Since these funds come from an existing excise tax on shooting and archery equipment, this bipartisan proposal doesn't cost our taxpayers a dime and instead simply helps those paying into the system--which are primarily sportsmen--to get a better return on their investment.

Earlier this year, I asked our fellow Coloradans to tell me why they support my efforts and why they would like to see more high-quality shooting ranges, and I wish to close with some of their words.

Donald, from Pagosa Springs, CO, said:

We desperately need a range facility in our area to be able to continue teaching our kids and those who are new to hunting how to safely handle firearms.

From Gary, in Aurora, CO:

These ranges are not just a place to shoot. I cannot stress this enough as we are seeing more and more clubs closing down: We need more places to teach, enjoy and relax with fellow shooters.

So in the spirit of those Coloradans, I urge my colleagues to support the Sportsmen's Act of 2012 and put these bipartisan, commonsense proposals to work for America's sportsmen as soon as possible.

I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.


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