Udall: Beetle bill delay jeopardizes communities

U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., today said Republican use of an arcane Senate rule to block a hearing on his bark beetle bill jeopardizes the chances of providing timely help for communities threatened by the insect’s outbreak.

For two days in a row, Senate Republicans prevented the hearing by invoking a rule to stop hearings from occurring more than two hours after the start of the Senate’s daily session. They acted out of protest against the recent passage of health care legislation into law.

The Republicans also used the rule to block a Senate Armed Services Committee budget hearing where testimony was to be offered by high-ranking military officials who had traveled from overseas to attend.

“This is irresponsible. This isn’t a game. Republicans are preventing the Senate from taking action on national security and public safety,” Udall said in a media teleconference.

Udall’s bill, cosponsored by Republican Sen. James Risch of Idaho, would help expedite thinning of beetle-killed forests near communities to better protect them from wildfires and the threat of falling trees. He said the measure needs to be passed soon if the Forest Service and logging contractors are going to be able to make plans based on it to act before the summer wildfire season.


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