News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
Proposed U.S. Land Sale Runs Into Flak in Senate
The Bush administration’s proposal to sell thousands of acres of national forest to support rural schools and counties is getting a cool reception in the Senate, which along with the House must approve the plan.
About $800 million in expected revenue from the sale of about 200,000 to 300,000 acres would fund the next five years of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act of 2000, which pays a subsidy to school districts and counties that is based on the share of revenues they once received from timber sales from federal lands. That law expires at the end of September. ("Bush’s Forest Proposal Worries Rural Schools," Feb. 22, 2006.)
Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers spoke against the plan last week at a hearing on the U.S. Forest Service’s budget before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Some disapproved of the plan’s payment levels, which would drop sharply, to about half the current subsidy, and of the use of a land sale as the funding mechanism.
A bill sponsored by Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Larry E. Craig, R-Idaho, would reauthorize the law at current levels, funded from the regular federal budget. Environmentalists and school groups support that idea.
Vol. 25, Issue 26, Page 24