ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Rep. Don Young was expected to lead a fight on the House floor today in efforts to kill the 2001 spending bill for the Interior Department because it shreds the massive Conservation and Reinvestment Act he worked two years to enact.
Young appeared before the House Rules Committee with a bipartisan group of CARA supporters Monday. The Alaska Republican said that unless they were given an opportunity to offer the $3 billion-a-year entitlement program as an amendment to the spending bill, they will try to find enough opposition to the $18.8 billion package to send it back to a House-Senate conference committee for a rewrite.
''I'll do everything I can to make sure this doesn't become a reality, even if we have to stay here two more weeks,'' Young, chairman of the House Resources Committee, told the rules panel.
The Rules Committee writes the procedures under which bills are considered on the House floor. But the panel has little flexibility on this measure because congressional rules prevent compromise spending bills produced by House-Senate negotiating committees from being amended.
That means Young's most likely avenue of attack is a motion to send the bill back to the conference committee, which last week decided to insert a six-year, $12 billion land acquisition and conservation program into the spending bill instead of Young's more comprehensive and widely popular CARA legislation.
Appearing before the rules committee with Young on Monday were California Rep. George Miller, the senior Democrat on the resources committee, Republican Rep. Billy Tauzin and Democratic Rep. Chris John of Louisiana and Democrat John Dingell of Illinois.
Young's CARA legislation cleared the House with 315 votes this summer. But it's struggling for life because the Senate has yet to pass similar legislation approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
That panel is headed by Sen. Frank Murkowski, R-Alaska.
Senate leaders have told CARA supporters they would like to bring up the bill before Congress adjourns in the next week or two, but many think that pledge will be tough to fulfill because of a possible filibuster.
As passed by the House, the CARA bill would take $3 billion a year from federal offshore drilling receipts and place it in entitlement programs for land acquisition, coastal habitat protection, wildlife programs and parks and recreation expansion.
Opponents of the measure call it a massive federal land grab. Backers contend it's the most sweeping conservation measure in decades.
The legislation is endorsed by more than 5,000 organizations, from mayors and governors to sports equipment manufacturers and wildlife agencies.
Those organizations are rallying behind Young to, as they say, ''pass the real CARA'' rather than the weaker version worked out by House and Senate appropriators last week.
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