Historic Montana Lands Package Nears Finish Line
A raft of public lands measures is headed for a vote in the U.S. Senate this week following a last-minute series of negotiations between the state’s congressional leaders, who together marshaled a bundle of Montana bills into the historic package.
The product of 11th-hour arbitrations that nearly collapsed in the waning moments of Dec. 2, the sprawling lands package was rolled into the National Defense Authorization Act, a must-pass piece of legislation that has lawmakers optimistic it would sail through the Senate with the lands bills intact.
The U.S. House easily passed the defense spending bill on Dec. 4.
The give-and-take nature of the lands package was essential to the three congressional leaders striking a deal they could agree on.
“Two days ago we thought this was dead,” Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester said Dec. 3, describing how fragile the negotiations had become. “But we finally came up with something that we could all wrap our arms around and that is a huge feat. This is a win for Montana.”
The entire congressional delegation expressed confidence that the Senate would take quick action to approve the package.