By: Bruce L. Tague – Vice President Government Affairs, Sportsmen’s Alliance
The Sportsmen’s Alliance works to defend our heritage nationwide partly by monitoring legislation in all 50 states, as well as election results. Elections have consequences, and we must remain vigilant in protecting our passions. We also believe that our members should be kept up to date on these issues so they can stay informed about any issues in their states, while also seeing the threats posed in other states – it’s a coordinated attack that’s taking place; something that’s often missed if you only pay attention to what’s going on in your state.
Elected officials can be helpful or extremely detrimental to wildlife conservation when approving rules and regulations for public lands, firearms, hunting, fishing and trapping. Sportsmen need to stay current on the makeup of key committees that affect our outdoors heritage. We also need to understand the potential impacts of each election cycle.
There have been countless news stories about the potential for Congress to change hands from Republican control to Democratic control. Many political pundits believe Democrats have a great opportunity to take the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. Currently, Republicans control the chamber 236-193. It takes at least 218 seats to control the House. On October 24, the latest forecast by 538 politics gave democrats an 85% (6 in 7) chance of winning enough seats to take control.
While most sportsmen realize this would likely put Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California 12) in charge as Speaker of the House, most probably don’t know how this outcome could impact wildlife conservation and hunting in 2019-20 and beyond.
At stake, when control of Congress switches hands, is more than just the speaker’s gavel, it also means that the leadership of important policy committees also change hands. Of interest to sportsmen are the House Committee on Natural Resources and the Senate Committee on Environment and Energy and Natural Resources, the two committees that control virtually all legislation of importance to hunters, anglers and trappers.
If control of the U.S. House does change hands, what would that mean for hunters, anglers and trappers?
It would likely put Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Arizona 3), currently the committee’s top Democrat, in charge of the House Resources Committee. Grijalva has long been a thorn in the side of sportsmen. In fact, the Humane Society Legislative Fund (HSLF) has given Congressman Grijalva a perfect score of 100-percent each year for more than a decade.
In addition to earning a perfect score from the world’s largest animal-rights organization, he is also one of their officially endorsed candidates and has authored several of their priority issues, including fighting to prevent wolves from being delisted, despite their healthy and abundant populations in several locations across the country. Over the years, Grijalva has also worked to ban bear hunting and trapping on federal land.
In the Senate, most prognostications have Republicans retaining control of their slim two-seat majority in the U.S. Senate. However, Real Clear Politics lists 6 toss-up races that will decide control of the upper chamber: Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Montana and Nevada.
If Senate Democrats win enough seats, it would likely mean that Washington state Sen. Maria Cantwell, the ranking Democrat, could be the new chair of the Senate Environment and Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Like Grijalva, Cantwell is endorsed by the HSLF and earned a perfect score of 100-percent by the Humane Society Legislative Fund on their 2018 scorecard. Cantwell has a long track record of HSLF support, receiving a perfect score 8 of the last 10 years.
The bottom line is this: while your vote will help determine who represents you in Washington, D.C., it will also help determine who chairs and controls the all-important committees that decide hunting and wildlife issues. With so many close races in the U.S. House and Senate, this gives American sportsmen a lot to consider as they head to the polls.
Regardless of how you vote, it is vitally important for hunters, anglers and trappers to make their voices heard on Election Day. It is not too late to call your Representative or Senator today and address these issues before Election Day in two weeks. Our beloved heritage depends on it!
About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research. Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance: Online, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.