Yesterday, Congressional leadership reached a deal on the FY2018 omnibus spending package that DOES NOT INCLUDE Senator Murkowski’s long-sought Tongass riders!
As you know, these last few months we’ve been watching and engaging lawmakers on Senator Murkowski’s two ‘poison-pill’ riders, which she has been working to attach to the spending bill over the last few weeks. The riders would have created an exclusion for the Tongass and the Chugach National Forests from the Roadless Rule and would have thrown out the 2016 Tongass Land Management Plan (TLMP) Amendment, the plan that guides how the Forest Service manages our resources here.
The omnibus measure was passed by the House earlier today and now moves to the Senate, where it is also expected to pass. Congress needs to pass a spending bill by midnight on Friday the 23rd in order to avoid yet another government shutdown.
That the riders are not included in the omnibus spending package at a time when Republicans control the House, Senate, and White House, and when Senator Murkowski herself both chairs the powerful Senate Committee on Natural Resources and sits on the Appropriations Committee, sends a powerful message about the extent to which the people of Alaska will show up for the Tongass when our wild places, way of life, and progressive vision for a future beyond logging is threatened. THANK YOU for every petition you’ve signed, every call you made or letter you’ve sent, every op-ed you’ve authored, and for each conversation with friends at a potluck or around the bonfire or dinner table. These actions made a difference!
And while we are taking the time to celebrate this achievement today, we must remember this fight is not over!
The Roadless Rule and TLMP Amendment riders are two tools in Senator Murkowski’s perpetual assault on the Tongass that we know she will use again, and soon. Senator Murkowski is going to attach them to must-pass legislation over and over again in the year to come, and we will need everyone on board and ready to show up to defend our forest from her attacks when they do, just like you have done over the last few weeks.
While much of the fight for the Tongass is still ahead, today this is a cause for celebration for people everywhere who love and care about Southeast Alaska, our vibrant forests, and our very wildest places.