Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Grouse About This: A Funny-Looking Bird Is Holding Up Key National Defense Legislation

Long considered a joke to defense watchers, the odd-looking sage grouse is not longer a laughing matter, but a bona fide threat to progress of a massive multibillion-dollar defense policy bill. The bird is at the center of a high-level showdown between House Republican leadership and the "Big Four" leaders of Congressional armed services committees. That's because accommodations for the sage grouse touch energy, mining and ranching interests, and at least if some House Republicans are to be believed, such accommodations would hinder operations at some US military bases. The House's No. 2 Republican, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, of California, has indicated he will not let the annual National Defense Authorization Act proceed to a vote in the House unless it contains language to bar the sage grouse from the federal endangered species list until at least 2025. “I think it needs to stay in the bill,” McCarthy told reporters on Monday, referring to the sage-grouse measure. “I think that’s been delivered very clearly to everybody.” Yet the "Big Four" — Senate Armed Services Chair John McCain, R-Ariz., and Ranking Member Jack Reed, D-R.I.; and House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, and Ranking Member Adam Smith, D-Wash. — argue the Defense Department has said it has no need for the provision and it should be excluded from the final bill...more

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