A major sportsmen bill to improve wildlife habitat and expand access to federal lands for hunting and fishing stumbled badly in the Senate on Monday night — the victim of an obscure budget dispute over how to count a proposed $10 increase in the price of duck stamps to pay for wetlands conservation.
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) let the roll call run for more than an hour but still ended up with just 50 votes — 10 short of the required 60 to waive the budget point of order.
Reid was hurt by Democratic absentees, but the outcome was dictated by Republicans and reflected the continued harsh feelings still in the chamber.
Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, insisted later that he would be open to compromise. But with time already short, the partisan-tinged fight was a stunning setback — and perhaps fatal — for the coalition of gun and conservation forces who have backed the legislation.