House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) will bring his omnibus forestry bill to a vote tomorrow (9/19), if all goes well in the Rules Committee tonight which sets the terms of the debate. HR 1526’s (“Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Communities Act“) goal is simple — more logging on federal lands. The means, however, differ from past practice.
In the old days, when Congress wanted more logging it increased timber sale appropriations to the Forest Service to pay for sale preparation and administration. But that dog doesn’t hunt good in today’s budget slashing House. Instead, HR 1526 uses the Jean-Luc Picard tactic: “Make it so.” The bill imposes an enforceable logging mandate for each national forest amounting to no less than one-half of the forest’s long-run sustained yield growth.
Yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office released its analysis of the bill, which guesses that logging levels would double and net costs to the Treasury increase. CBO acknowledges candidly that the reality “could vary significantly from CBO’s estimate.”
That the bill will pass in the Republican-controlled House is a foregone conclusion. Its reception in the Senate, however, will depend on how many of the 200 House Democrats cast an “aye” vote.
I’ll give a “shout-out” to the reader who comes closest to the actual House Democrat vote tally. Extra credit if you predict the correct vote of Oregon’s O&C district House Democrats (DeFazio and Schrader), as their O&C bill is folded into the poison-pill Hastings package. All bets are off if Democrats let the bill pass without a recorded vote (as they did in committee).