3 GOP senators block vote on North Fork Flathead protection

2014-04-04T08:00:00Z 2014-10-03T14:27:24Z 3 GOP senators block vote on North Fork Flathead protectionBy MIKE DENNISON Missoulian State Bureau missoulian.com

Montana’s newest U.S. senator, Democrat John Walsh, tried Thursday to pass the bill protecting the North Fork of the Flathead River from mineral development, but a trio of Republican senators blocked the move.

Walsh, appointed to the job on Feb. 7, asked the U.S. Senate to pass the measure by “unanimous consent,” but three senators – Ted Cruz of Texas, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma – objected.

“This is exactly what’s wrong with Washington, D.C., and I invite my colleagues who objected to the bill to float the North Fork this spring and see why this bill is so important,” Walsh said in a statement.

The offices of Cruz, Toomey and Coburn could not be reached for comment late Thursday.

While Walsh’s attempt to pass the bill failed, the measure remains on the Senate calendar and could be considered later.

“He’ll continue working with the senators who objected to see if he can get (the hold) removed,” said Walsh spokeswoman Andrea Helling.

A similar measure sponsored by Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., passed the House a month ago.

Walsh’s campaign issued a statement late Thursday urging Daines to convince the three Republican senators to remove their holds from the bill.

Daines asked why Senate Democratic leaders couldn’t have brought the bill to the floor for a regular vote, avoiding the need for unanimous consent.

“I’m interested in getting this done and working for the solutions for the people of Montana,” he said. “We passed this in the House through regular order. I hope they can do the same in the Senate. … The Democrats control the majority in the Senate, so they can set the agenda.”

As long as an individual senator has a “hold” on the bill, it takes a 60-vote majority to overcome it.

Legislation to protect the North Fork watershed, in the works for at least four years, would bar any future oil and gas or other mineral leases on federally owned land in the watershed west of Glacier National Park.

The effort has been in conjunction with agreements by Canada to stop mineral development in the North Fork drainage in British Columbia.

In remarks on the Senate floor Thursday, Walsh said Montanans have fought for 40 years to keep the area pristine, and that its preservation helps support thousands of jobs in the area.

“The entire Montana congressional delegation is in bipartisan agreement that the leases in the North Fork deserve to be withdrawn permanently from future mineral development,” he said. “Montanans of all stripes have endorsed this action, including the local chambers of commerce and energy companies like ConocoPhillips.”

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said Thursday that the bill “fell victim to a few folks who can’t even find the Flathead River on a map.”

“Politics trumped good policy, hurting Montana’s economy and our outdoor heritage in the process,” he said. “The American people deserve better.”

​Reach the Missoulian newsroom at @missoulian, at newsdesk@missoulian.com or at (406) 523-5240

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(29) Comments

  1. Faxnlogicovremotnlhystria
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    Faxnlogicovremotnlhystria - April 06, 2014 9:28 pm
    I must disagree with Cruz on this. On the other hand, I can imagine this is the frustration he must feel when northeastern liberals meddle in immigration law. People that couldn't even find the Rio Grande on a map.
  2. chaffincreek
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    chaffincreek - April 05, 2014 5:55 am
    By the way the same for Cruz and Exxon Mobile: 50-100,000
  3. chaffincreek
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    chaffincreek - April 05, 2014 5:53 am
    @Perfect*: Legislation to protect the North Fork watershed, in the works for at least four years, would bar any future oil and gas or other mineral leases on federally owned land in the watershed west of Glacier National Park.

    Perfect* again gets it wrong. Cruz's chevron investment: 50-100,000
  4. dsrobinsMT
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    dsrobinsMT - April 04, 2014 2:27 pm
    It's hugely amusing and ironic to watch Stevie Daines little North Fork protection bill shot down in flames by members of his own party. The bill is nothing but a codicil to legislation proposed and passed into law by our two Democratic Senators, Baucus and Tester. Watching Daines' bill get bitten by his fellow extremist, tea bagger Republics is truly poetic justice.
  5. dsrobinsMT
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    dsrobinsMT - April 04, 2014 2:21 pm
    2016 would be a good year to vote Ted Cruz out of Congress. It would be so good for America.
  6. Dcmissoula
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    Dcmissoula - April 04, 2014 1:30 pm
    Cruz 2016
  7. Dcmissoula
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    Dcmissoula - April 04, 2014 1:27 pm
    Such as?
  8. Miss Perfect
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    Miss Perfect - April 04, 2014 12:49 pm
    Key Note..........Daines, unlike Walsh, worked within his OWN party FIRST, then sought consensus from his colleagues on the other side. He brought his ideas to the table and discussed them in a HONEST, principled manner......and he GOT RESULTS.

    Question. Blue or Red.........who do you see as the "Leader" here? "Whom" would have delivered this bill to victory?

    Were it my vote, I would go with the man getting the job done.
  9. Miss Perfect
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    Miss Perfect - April 04, 2014 12:45 pm
    These three senators are conservatives......we don't see any details because Dennison (reporter) wanted it that way.

    In the past, it is not uncommon to see Cruz block this "Method" purely on principle. The problem is that this method (Unanimous Consent) does not allow ANY senator to "Advise and Consent." It is a "Short cut" used in simple matters where expedience is the goal, NOT Bypassing the senate.

    Nope......these three are much more "Montana" than Walsh is. They are conservatives and NONE OF THEM VOTED FOR OBAMACARE!
  10. Miss Perfect
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    Miss Perfect - April 04, 2014 12:39 pm
    nope.....but they are conservatives
  11. Chewy
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    Chewy - April 04, 2014 10:03 am
    The information was not in the original story, they added it later.
  12. Rez Kid
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    Rez Kid - April 04, 2014 8:24 am
    Kind of like almost every Dem. in politics blocking the Keystone Pipeline for 5 years. The pipeline that will the most advanced, safest pipeline in the world. The idiots would rather see the oil hauled by Warren Buffet's railroad, which is 10,000 times more likely to have an oil spill disaster.
  13. troutcreek
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    troutcreek - April 04, 2014 5:50 am
    Cruz, Coburn, and Toomey likely all have a financial stake in mineral development in Montana or have a major campaign contributor with mineral interests. Washington is all about securing personal wealth through politics.
  14. Miss Perfect
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    Miss Perfect - April 03, 2014 11:32 pm
    Looooooooser! Walsh was sunk by his OWN party, not the GOP. He should be barking at Harry Reid.
  15. Miss Perfect
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    Miss Perfect - April 03, 2014 11:31 pm
    Dennison did a poor job of reporting (Again) and dramatized the issue.

    TWO KEY FACTS: First......it only take ONE vote to kill a "Unanimous Consent" proceeding......hence the name..."Unanimous Consent."

    Second: The democrats OWN the senate, so why did they RISK an easy victory by shoving i through the "Fast line?"

    Answer: Harry Reid, the speaker of the Senate, is not interested in this bill and knows he does not have the votes for it.

    Bottom Line - Walsh is a loser....no......a whiney loser.

    Read This:
    unanimous consent - A senator may request unanimous consent on the floor to set aside a specified rule of procedure so as to expedite proceedings. If no Senator objects, the Senate permits the action, but if any one senator objects, the request is rejected. Unanimous consent requests with only immediate effects are routinely granted, but ones affecting the floor schedule, the conditions of considering a bill or other business, or the rights of other senators, are normally not offered, or a floor leader will object to it, until all senators concerned have had an opportunity to inform the leaders that they find it acceptable.
  16. montananurse
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    montananurse - April 03, 2014 11:28 pm
    Drummer, why is it Republicans scream less government but need to take away personal freedoms?
  17. snickers
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    snickers - April 03, 2014 10:59 pm
    Oh gimme a break. What a stupid post.
  18. Livin the good life
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    Livin the good life - April 03, 2014 10:44 pm
    Just sent this to all 3 senators

    Where do you get off using your political agenda to block the Flathead Headwater protection bill? You obviously know nothing about our state or the importance across the entire state of Montana(all Republicans, Democrats,Independents, virtually everyone) and our good Canadian neighbors who have spent decades protecting the pristine Flathead Headwaters. You want to take back control of the senate and want a Republican senator to replace departed Max Baucus from Montana? Stop your block or you can kiss that goodbye.

    Letting everyone I know to do the same
  19. MontanaJim72
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    MontanaJim72 - April 03, 2014 9:46 pm
    Three tea party candidates who are against everything voted against this bill. Vote tea party this year and you can expect this on every bill that might help the country. I am amazed at the number of candidates running for the House seat in the Republican party that will not identify themselves as tea party. Are they ashamed to be associated with the tea party, or are they trying to slip under the radar that comes with being a tea party member. The Republican party is headed for disaster as long as they accept the tea party as part of their membership.
  20. wes d
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    wes d - April 03, 2014 8:38 pm
    This is INFURIATING!! Thanks again GOP! Is it their mission to ruin all good things for the sake of a dollar, AArrgh!
  21. Pistol
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    Pistol - April 03, 2014 8:31 pm
    The Democrats control the senate! Harry Reid should just bring the issue to a vote. The article would lead one to believe the vote would be 97-3.
  22. Jupitor
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    Jupitor - April 03, 2014 8:31 pm
    Wow... could you imagine if Republican's ran our country? I'd leave and never look back..
  23. Aberdeen
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    Aberdeen - April 03, 2014 8:17 pm
    Been to Texas and OK - not much in either place worth protecting from more development!
  24. Drummer
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    Drummer - April 03, 2014 6:34 pm
    Hooray for Toomey, Cruz, and Coburn....smaller government. Let the locals take care of Montana.......NO MORE NANNY STATE! The government has too much land and waterways that they control. We have to continue to take back our Country, and stop the Nazi takeover.
  25. Chewy
    Report Abuse
    Chewy - April 03, 2014 5:38 pm
    Thanks for adding the names. I'm warming up some tar, anybody have any spare feathers? ;^)
  26. BigMac
    Report Abuse
    BigMac - April 03, 2014 4:57 pm
    Read the story again!
  27. TheArmadillo
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    TheArmadillo - April 03, 2014 4:55 pm
    Toomey of Pennsylvania, Cruz of Texas, and Coburn of Oklahoma.
  28. Aberdeen
    Report Abuse
    Aberdeen - April 03, 2014 3:05 pm
    So we should vote for Daine? Likely he'd try to get our votes by kissing or butts, but vote down similar good legislation in some other western State!
  29. Chewy
    Report Abuse
    Chewy - April 03, 2014 2:44 pm
    Is there a reason the names of the three senators are not mentioned?
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