Dominguez bill passes crucial vote

One of the final pieces of legislation Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., said he hopes to see become law before he leaves the Senate this month cleared a crucial hurdle Sunday in a rare weekend vote.

The legislation, the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, includes provisions to create a 209,610-acre Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area from land in Mesa, Delta and Montrose counties.

The legislation also creates a 66,280-acre Dominguez Canyon Wilderness Area.

Matt Lee-Ashley, a spokesman for Salazar, said his boss is “very pleased” the public lands legislation passed this major test in the Senate.

“We’re hopeful the Senate will keep making progress on this bill and move toward final passage this week,” Lee-Ashley said.

Sunday’s 66-12 vote to end debate on the bill ends the possibility of a Republican-led filibuster.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., managed to effectively kill the bill last year primarily by decrying its price tag, $4 billion over five years, and the earmarks inserted in the bill. 

The legislation was one measure Salazar has said he would like to see passed into law before he joins the administration of President-elect Barack Obama.

Lee-Ashley said the bill could come up for its final vote by the end of this week.

Salazar’s confirmation hearings to become the head of the U.S. Interior Department are scheduled to start Thursday.

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., along with the majority of senators from the Rocky Mountain West, voted in favor of ending debate on the bill.


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