On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.J. Res. 69, a measure that would use the Congressional Review Act to repeal an Obama-era rule passed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to preempt Alaskan management of wildlife on National Wildlife Refuges within the state.
The Congressional Review Act (CRA) allows Congress a limited window to disapprove an agency rule by passing a joint resolution of disapproval. In particular, it acts as a safeguard against overreaching rules passed in the waning days of an outgoing administration (a tactic heavily employed by the Obama administration). Resolutions under the CRA are not subject to filibuster, meaning only a simple majority in each house of Congress is necessary for the resolution to pass. The CRA also prevents passage of a substantially similar rule without an intervening act of Congress.
The FWS rule underlying H.J. Res. 69 was finalized on August 5, 2016. It argued that Alaska’s wildlife management practices had begun to deviate from federal policies and therefore would be preempted in various respects.
Highlighting the political nature of the rule, however, was the involvement of the anti-hunting Humane Society of the United States, which ran typically hyperbolic television ads falsely claiming that its repeal would allow for inhumane forms of taking bears and wolves.
The basic point of contention, however, was whether local Alaskan wildlife management authorities or the federal government should ultimately be responsible for setting policy on fish and wildlife management on National Wildlife Refuges within Alaska’s borders.
The NRA and other sportsmen’s groups opposed the rule as a marked deviation from the traditional deference given to state fish and wildlife management by federal authorities. They also pointed to conflicts with the Alaska Statehood Compact, as well as a 1980 statute, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which recognizes state authority to manage fish and wildlife resources on state, private and federal lands throughout Alaska. Simply put, the rule threatened to fundamentally alter the federal-state relationship over fish and wildlife management and set dangerous precedent for other states.
“Preserving the right of Alaska to manage its wildlife is a victory for outdoorsmen in all 50 states,” said NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox. “On behalf of the NRA and our 5 million members, I would like to thank Congressman Don Young (R-AK) and Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) for their hard work on this issue and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) for their leadership,” concluded Cox.
H.J. Res. 69 now heads to the Senate.
Please contact your U.S. Senators and urge them to vote YES on H.J. Res. 69 and to swiftly send this measure to President Trump for his signature. You can call your Senators via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 or you can send an email by using our Take Action tool.