Changes to Congressional Natural Resources Leadership

By Colleen Hartel

Congress Image Credit: Ken Hammond, USDA

The 114th session Congress began in January, bringing changes to the leadership of committees and subcommittees with jurisdiction over wildlife in both the House and the Senate.

The House Natural Resources Committee has seen some organizational changes since the beginning of the 114th Congress. Congressmen Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Raúl Grijalva (D-Arizona) were appointed Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee respectively. Chairman Bishop moved to restructure the Natural Resources subcommittees. He disbanded and redistributed the responsibilities of the Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs Subcommittee and created the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. The new oversight subcommittee will be led by Congressman Louie Gohmert (R-Texas).

The entire Committee also recently released a 10-page Oversight Plan, outlining the primary focuses of the Committee for the 114th Congress, some of which are specific to wildlife. The plan states that the Committee intends to examine ways to effectively address problems caused by non-native species; the Committee also plans to conduct a series of oversight hearings on provisions to the Lacey Act, a 1900 law prohibiting the trade of illegally obtained fish, wildlife, and plants.

The Endangered Species Act (ESA) will be under the jurisdiction of the full House Natural Resources Committee. The Oversight Plan states that the Committee “will continue to examine ways to update and improve the ESA.” Last year, the Committee released a report questioning the independence of peer reviews used in ESA listing decisions.

On the Senate side, both the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and Environment and Public Works Committee have jurisdiction on wildlife-related issues. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) were appointed Chairwoman and Ranking Member respectively of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The Committee has four subcommittees, including the National Parks Subcommittee and Public Lands, Forests, and Mining Subcommittee.

The Environment and Public Works Committee houses the Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the ESA, invasive species, and National Wildlife Refuges among other items. The Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife Subcommittee is chaired by Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska).

Source: Energy & Environment Daily (January 29, 2015)

Colleen Hartel is a policy intern at The Wildlife Society as part of the Government Affairs & Partnership program.

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