Republicans and Democrats can’t find a whole lot to agree on these days. Well, today they did. Thirty-seven Republicans joined all but 2 Democrats to pass an amendment to the Interior appropriations bill (H.R. 2584) that preserves critical protections for America’s imperiled wildlife. The amendment—introduced by Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) and co-sponsored by Reps. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI)—strikes the “extinction rider,” a provision that would have increased the risk of extinction for imperiled species by blocking protections for new species under the Endangered Species Act.
As I wrote previously, the extinction rider directly conflicts with our nation’s values by taking a cheap shot at animals, which cannot defend themselves. Americans don’t support this provision – and that’s why it didn’t pass. Indeed, the Members of Congress I spoke with in the last few weeks said they had been inundated by phone calls opposing the extinction rider. Rep. Fitzpatrick, who served as the only Republican co-sponsor of the amendment, said he received 400 calls and letters in opposition to the extinction rider from his constituents!
(c) Fish and Wildlife Service
With this provision removed from the bill, the Fish and Wildlife Service will be able to do its job of protecting currently listed species and working to eliminate the backlog of over 260 species for which protection is warranted, but precluded due to lack of resources.
This vote demonstrates that Members on both sides of the aisle want the next generation to have a chance to watch a pacific walrus swim through the ice off Alaska’s western coast, or benefit from the potentially-life saving medicines many endangered species could provide. No one wants to take these opportunities away from their kids or their constituent’s kids.
So, today, wildlife has won. And as a result, we all have.