The partisan rancor in Washington, D.C. these days could be the worst it has been since the late 1850s. A divided Congress could be headed towards a government shutdown, senators and representatives seem far more interested in taking shots at one another on social media than collaborating on legislation to improve Americans’ bottom lines, shore up our rickety financial systems, and substantially deal with the looming disaster with programs like Social Security.
Everything is stupid and it’s only getting worse… but for a few hours this week congresscritters demonstrated that they can actually come together and do something useful when they put their minds to it.
In a 424-1 vote, the House approved the Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act with 216 Republicans and 208 Democrats voting in favor, and just one lawmaker, Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, voting against. Rep. Mark Green, R-Tenn., introduced the bill on Aug. 1, days after a Fox News Digital report in late July revealed the Department of Education was withholding funds for school hunting and archery courses.
“Hunters and fishers are the best conservationists,” Green told Fox News Digital after the vote Tuesday. “Hunting, whether it be with a firearm or bow, is one of the most effective ways to control wildlife populations, protect our beautiful lands, and connect with nature. My Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act is critical for our children.”
He added in a separate statement that American students should be encouraged to “participate in enriching athletic activities that foster an appreciation for nature and the ability to focus on a goal.” According to Green, in his state alone, the Biden administration’s funding decision impacts an estimated 50,000 students.
The House vote took place late Tuesday, but there was still plenty of speculation about whether the Senate would take up the House resolution and how many Democrats would vote to rebuke the Biden administration and restore the funding that was yanked by Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, who claimed language in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act prohibited the agency from providing those grants.
On Wednesday afternoon, however, the Senate put those questions to rest.
Correction: passed by unanimous consent
— Senate Press Gallery (@SenatePress) September 27, 2023
Both Republicans and Democrats had urged Cardona to reverse his initial decision and restore funding, but the education secretary insisted that BSCA prevented the funding of any programs that involve “dangerous weapons” like hunter ed and archery programs. Instead of backing down, Cardona essentially dared a usually divided Congress to pass legislation “clarifying” the intent of the BSCA and funding for these in-school programs, and for once the House and Senate rose to the occasion.
Earlier this month, three of the four BSCA Senate sponsors — Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz. — introduced companion legislation to Green’s bill.
“The Biden administration’s misinterpretation of these provisions has jeopardized educational enrichment programs like hunting and archery, which play a critical role in our next generation’s development and well-being,” Cornyn said Tuesday after the House vote. “This legislation would ensure these programs remain available in schools across the nation, and I urge the Senate to pass it as soon as possible.”
And now they have.
I wish I could say that this vote has restored my faith in Congress, but it’s gonna take a lot more than this particular vote to do that. Still, it’s good to see that senators and representatives are capable of exhibiting actual common sense and the ability to do the right thing, and millions of students across the country will be better off once the funding for these vitally important programs is finally restored.