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Maine Senator Blasts Bill Riders Holding up Legislation

AUGUSTA, Maine - Maine Sen. Angus King says important legislation, including a continuing resolution to prevent a federal government shutdown Oct. 1, and the National Defense Authorization Act, are being held up by issues often unrelated to those bills.

The independent senator cites the effort by some lawmakers from western states to attach a rider that would limit efforts to preserve the greater sage grouse.

“A perfect example is the National Defense Authorization Act, which, my understanding is, is now being held up by the sage grouse,” King says.

King acknowledges that the sage grouse issue is important to the 11 western states that are home to the bird, but he says it should not be holding up the National Defense Authorization Act, which he says "supports our men and women all over the world."

Some lawmakers representing those western states are worried that if the sage grouse is listed as an endangered species it will mean stricter restrictions on oil and gas exploration, grazing and other human activities. An estimated half a million of the birds live in the West, down from a peak of about 16 million.