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Public Statements

The Sportsmen's Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. WARNER. Mr. President, I will take a couple of brief moments. First, let me thank my friend, the Senator from Illinois. No one has spent more time and also, candidly, taken a more courageous position in these discussions around avoiding this fiscal cliff. For some, for political or other reasons, these are challenging discussions. But no one more than the Senator from Illinois has been willing to put more on the line, has been willing to take more heat and has more represented this whole notion of putting country first on an issue that I think is the defining moment of our time.

I thank my friend, the Senator from Illinois. I appreciate all he has done. I think history will actually show in many ways that the original framework of the so-called Gang of 6--I think it is only in Washington where when people try to work together they are immediately designated as gang members--but particularly the low-income protections the Senator of Illinois made sure we had in our bipartisan agreement that reduced the deficit by more than $4 trillion will stand as the high water mark. I commend him for his work.

I want to say as a relatively new Senator and one who is still trying to learn the rules and procedures, I also always thought that if someone filibustered a bill they had to stay on the floor and make that case. As someone who was never a legislator before I came to this position, I look forward to working with him and reasonable Members from both sides of the aisle to make sure we have rules reforms so the Senate can get back to doing the people's business and not be involved in procedural matters.

With that, I wish to speak very briefly about the issue before us. It is hunting season in Virginia--I am sure it is in Delaware as well--so it is timely that this current bill is before us. I wish to take a moment to voice my support for the Sportsmen's Act of 2012, a bill I am proud to cosponsor. I applaud the hard work my good friend from Montana, Senator Tester, has done in moving this bill forward through a number of challenges. He has put so much time and effort into pulling various pieces together, building support, and balancing different interests. I am confident that, with his leadership, we have put together a very strong piece of legislation.

The Sportsmen's Act of 2012 is a compilation of nearly 20 different bipartisan bills that are important to sportsmen and conservation communities across America. It focuses on the conservation of wildlife habitat and improved access for recreational hunting and fishing.

Sportsmen cite the loss of access as the No. 1 reason why they have given up on hunting or fishing. Currently, 35 million acres of public land are either restricted or provide no access. This bill allows the acquisition of more easements and rights of way to improve access to public land for hunting and fishing. The Sportsmen's Act of 2012 increases access to public lands for millions of Americans and Virginians who participate in hunting and fishing and other outdoor recreation, while also supporting the very important conservation of wildlife habitat.

This legislation promotes our recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting heritage. It also continues a number of key initiatives and public-private partnerships to support conservation of fish and wildlife populations.

This bipartisan bill is consistent with my long-term personal and policy commitment to provide more opportunities for outdoor recreation, to restore critical landscapes, and to support a robust outdoor economy.

It is also important to note that in the midst of our important debate about getting our fiscal house in order, this bill does not add one cent to the deficit. This CBO has concluded that it actually saves $5 million over 10 years.

Finally, and perhaps more telling than anything else, is the amount of support this bill has garnered from outside groups. Over 50 national conservation and wildlife groups support the bill. The National Wildlife Federation supports it, the NRA supports it, and President Obama supports it. That shows the breadth of support this legislation has. With such a broad spectrum of support, passing this bill should be a no-brainer.

I urge my colleagues to join me in another strong show of support for our sportsmen by voting yes on final passage.

Thank you, Mr. President. With that, I yield the floor.

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