Merkley: Public Lands Bill Clears Important First Hurdle

Washington, DC – A long-delayed public lands bill took a major step toward final passage today.  Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley cast his first vote in the U.S. Senate in support of moving forward on this important piece of legislation. 

“Oregonians are rightly proud of our long tradition of protecting our natural treasures for future generations.  This bill gives that effort a boost by expanding protections for some of the most iconic and special wild areas of our state,” said Merkley.  “I wish this bill had passed sooner, but I am very proud to be able to cast my first vote in support of Oregon’s natural resources.”

The public lands bill consists of numerous pieces of legislation that were blocked from consideration during the last Congress.  Among those bills are five that would directly affect Oregon:  the Copper Salmon Wilderness Act, Lewis and Clark Mount Hood Wilderness Act of 2007, Oregon Badlands Wilderness Act of 2008, Spring Basin Wilderness Act of 2008, and the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument Voluntary and Equitable Grazing Conflict Resolution Act. 

Fifty-nine votes were needed to overcome an announced filibuster.  Merkley joined 65 of his colleagues in support of ending debate and moving to final passage.  That vote will occur later this week.