What: All Issues : Environment : Wildlife/Forest/Wilderness/Land Conservation : H.R. 2691. Fiscal 2004 Interior Appropriations/Vote to Instruct House Conferees to Fully Compensate the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management for Costs Associated With Fire Suppression Activities Incurred During 2002. (2003 house Roll Call 527)
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H.R. 2691. Fiscal 2004 Interior Appropriations/Vote to Instruct House Conferees to Fully Compensate the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management for Costs Associated With Fire Suppression Activities Incurred During 2002.
house Roll Call 527     Oct 01, 2003
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win

In 2002, the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) together spent $1.2 billion fighting forest fires (an unusually high amount in comparison to expenditures on fire suppression activities in previous years). However, unlike most other federal agencies, the Forest Service and the BLM are not automatically compensated by the federal government for their disaster relief efforts and expenditures. While the Bush Administration repaid $825 million of the $1.2 billion spent on fighting wildfires, the Forest Service and the BLM would still be required to make cuts in other areas of their budgets in order to pay off the remaining $400 million which was spent on fighting wildfires. On this vote, Representative Dicks (D-WA) motioned to instruct House conferees-those lawmakers who participated in a conference committee to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of legislation to fund the Interior Department, Forest Service, BLM, and related agencies during 2004-to include an additional $400 million for fire suppression activities conducted by the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Progressives supported the motion to instruct because, in their view, the budgets of the Forest Service and the BLM should not be cut on account of greater-than-expected costs in fighting wildfires. Progressives argued that without full reimbursement for costs associated with wildfire suppression activities-which they pointed out can vary enormously from year-to-year-the Forest Service and the BLM would be forced to cancel construction and land acquisition projects, reforestation programs in national forests, endangered species protection efforts, and other important activities. Conservatives voted in opposition to Dicks's proposal but did not present arguments in favor of their position on the House floor. Democrats voted unanimously in favor of Dicks's proposal and, with the support of fifty-eight Republicans, the motion to instruct was adopted and the House conferees were compelled to fully compensate the Forest Service and the BLM for costs associated with fire suppression activities.

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