Defense Funding Bill Halted By A Bird (Again)

REUTERS/Bob Wick/BLM/Handout via Reuters

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A debate over a bird, and whether it should be banned from appearing on the endangered species list, halted Congress’ consideration of the defense spending bill Thursday.

The House’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes a provision that would prohibit listing the greater sage grouse on the Endangered Species List. The Senate version of the bill did not include that provision.

The two houses will probably not reach an agreement on the NDAA before they leave for fall recess in October, several Senate Democrats told the Washington Post. The sage grouse issue turned into a major sticking point as the House and Senate were in committee reconciling the two versions of the NDAA this week.

“We’ve thrown out a couple of compromise options — it’s up to the Senate to take them,” Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah, member of the House Armed Services Committee, told Politico Thursday.

A similar debate took place last fall as the House included a ban on listing the sage grouse in their version of NDAA legislation. House Republicans say that listing the bird as endangered would prevent the military from training on thousands of miles of wilderness area in the West, Reuters reported last year. The provision was eventually stripped from the bill.

The sage grouse lives in 11 states in the West, and the population has declined from around 16 million to between 200,000 and 500,000 over the past several years. President Barack Obama declined to list the bird on the endangered species list last year, and instead proposed a massive conservation effort revealed earlier this month(RELATED: Pentagon Shells Out $2 Million Grant To Preserve Greater Sage-Grouse)

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