House passes the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act

The U.S. House of Representatives adopted legislation aimed at ensuring the future of U.S. fish and wildlife conservation funding in a Tuesday evening bipartisan vote.

In a press release commending the passage of the legislation, known as the “Recovering America’s Wildlife Act” (H.R. 2773), The Wildlife Society commended the House’s groundbreaking action.

“This legislation will enable proactive conservation of all fish and wildlife species with a focus on precluding population declines,” said Gordon R. Batcheller, president of The Wildlife Society. “Thanks to bipartisan leadership in the House of Representatives, we are one step closer to ensuring that state and tribal natural resource professionals are empowered with the tools needed to conserve the full richness of fish and wildlife diversity.”

Preceding the vote, The Wildlife Society’s Conservation Affairs Network participated in a variety of grassroots advocacy efforts in which over 100 TWS members called and more than 460 members emailed their U.S. representatives to urge their support. These actions follow years of engagement from TWS headquarters and organization units in support of the legislation.

Several amendments were adopted for further consideration in the Senate, with most amendments focusing on the expansion of the available uses and oversight of funding distributed by the bill. Approved amendments include language that expands allowable activities under the legislation’s federal endangered species funding title to include the management of invasive species and disease, language that imposes additional administrative fee caps, and language that authorizes nonprofit eligibility for competitive grant funding.

During the House vote, many detractors of the legislation stopped short of voting for the bill due to uncertainty in a funding source, a point currently being explored by congressional leadership. Despite this, the legislation received bipartisan backing, with several members speaking to the urgency and cost-effective nature of the legislation.

“The longer we wait to address this issue, the more resources we will ultimately need to safeguard our nation’s wildlife and environment,” said Representative Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.), the bill’s original co-sponsor and champion, at the House Rules Committee hearing on Monday.

The House’s approval moves the focus for the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act to the Senate floor, where it is still awaiting a vote. If passed, both chambers of Congress are expected to conference on the bill to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions before advancing it further.

In the coming weeks, check out TWS’ action center for updates and opportunities to engage in efforts to pass the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.

Header Image: Western bluebirds (Sialia mexicana) are identified as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. Credit: Veit