Senators took to the floor yet again today to talk about the standoff between a vote on a clean TSCA-reform bill and permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Act.

Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) called the situation “nothing short of absurd.”

At issue are votes on two issues.

  • First, a bill, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (S. 697), which would modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act for the first time in 40 years.
  • Second, an amendment—attached to the TSCA reform bill or another bill—to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which uses oil and gas royalties for recreation and conservation projects.

S. 697 is backed by 60 senators, and about the same number of senators is said to support permanent reauthorization of the conservation fund.

Markey summed up the situation: “First a handful of Senate Republicans won’t allow a vote on Land and Water Conservation Fund because they don’t like the program.

“Then other Senate Republicans, who do like the Land and Water Conservation Fund, won’t allow a vote on TSCA [S. 697] because we couldn’t act on the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This is nothing short of absurd.”

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who objects to S. 697 proceeding to the floor unless it has an amendment permanently reauthorizing the conservation fund, replied: “Let me just stand up and take all the blame. I’m the guy holding up the chemical bill, TSCA.”

“To suggest that I shouldn’t have the right to amend any piece of legislation is to take every right I have as a U.S. senator,” Burr said.

“I’m going to hold up the chemical bill until there’s an opportunity to either amend it or to offer the Land and Water Conservation Fund be permanently extended on another piece of legislation,” he said.