House Approves Defense Bill; Compromises on Protections of Public Lands
As reported by Lisa Mascaro of the Los Angeles Times, a must-pass defense bill was approved by the House of Representatives 300-119 earlier this week that included a robust addendum for public lands protection. The measure notes about 70 different public lands projects, ranging from the first monument status for the Nevada ice age fossil beds, to protection of 275,000 acres of Rocky Mountain Front in Montana.
However, as a compromise between both business interests and environmental groups, the bill also allocates more than 110,000 acres for economic development, infrastructure improvements, and resource extraction. At the same time, the package designates 245,000 wilderness acres throughout the country.
The 1,600 page defense bill raises troops pay by 1 percent, and sets the military policy for fiscal 2015. According to Mascaro, "The bill also continued steep budget cuts previously approved by Congress under the so-called sequestration. At $585 billion, defense makes up almost half of the federal discretionary budget."