Committee sends Republican wildlife bill to rocky future

By Garrett Downs | 04/17/2024 06:19 AM EDT

Democrats vowed intense opposition to the legislation Tuesday, calling on House leaders to favor a bipartisan alternative.

Reps. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) and Jared Huffman (D-Calif.).

House Natural Resources Chair Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) and senior Democrat Jared Huffman of California. The two sparred Tuesday about wildlife legislation. Francis Chung/POLITICO

The House Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday passed 21-17 a Republican wildlife conservation bill along party lines, over fierce objections from Democrats who derided the measure as a sham.

H.R. 7408, the “America’s Wildlife Habitat Conservation Act,” from Natural Resources Chair Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), is a Republican alternative challenging the bipartisan “Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA),” which has been in the mix for years but failed to become law.

While the two bills share the goal of protecting wildlife habitat by providing grants to state conservation agencies, they sharply diverge in approach. The GOP bill may secure House passage but would likely be dead-on-arrival in the Senate.


Westerman’s bill would authorize an annual appropriation of $300 million that sunsets in five years. “RAWA” would provide more than $1.3 billion in permanent funding.