Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Swallow It, or, How Mike Gravel Saved HCR

A giant hat tip to Joel Connelly for remembering this occurrence. Joel is proof that Institutional Memory matters.

A compromise squeezes through the Senate. It's less liberal than the House version. After an election shifts the ground on Capitol Hill, the lame-duck House decides to pass the Senate compromise.

2010? Nope, 1980. Here's Wikipedia on the Alaska National Interests Lands Conservation Act:

The legislation was initially introduced into Congress in 1974 in several different bills .. .The election in 1976 of Jimmy Carter buoyed hopes that Alaskan conservation would finally get a fair hearing. However, several members of Congress, particularly Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska, remained strongly opposed to the absorption of such a large amount of land by the NPS...
In early November 1980, Jimmy Carter lost re-election to Ronald Reagan, and the Republican Party won a majority of seats in the Senate. Conservationists recognized that if they did not accept the compromise then on the table, they would be forced to begin again in the next Congress with decidedly less support. The bill was passed in late November, and signed into law in December.

It's not going to be pretty. But it's time for the House to get the deed done. And Mike Gravel's opposition to ANILCA in the 1980s will have provided Democrats the opening to make it happen.

What a strange world we live in.
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