Sportsmen Lose Advocate at House Committee Chair

Now that things have calmed down—relatively speaking, of course—on the national political scene since the November 4 elections, sportsmen may not be paying as close attention to the goings-on in Washington, D.C. as they were earlier in the year.

However, a strategic move that unseated a longtime sportsmen’s advocate from a powerful House committee leadership position last week could have far-reaching ramifications in the approaching legislative session.

By a slim margin of 137-122 last Thursday, House Democrats voted to buck seniority and strip the longest-serving member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Michigan’s John Dingell, of the chairmanship of the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

In his place will be Rep. Henry Waxman, whose constituents include residents of Beverly Hills, Malibu and Santa Monica, Calif.

Why was this move significant for hunters and anglers, you ask?

Waxman has a long history of supporting extreme environmental issues, animal rights causes and anti-gun legislation. He is a darling of the nation’s most vociferous anti-hunting organization, the Humane Society of the United States. Hunter-advocacy groups fear that in his influential position, Waxman may be poised to utilize the federal Endangered Species Act to curtail current scientific wildlife management practices by linking certain species and habitats to the wider issue of global climate change.

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On the other hand, Rep. Dingell has been a tireless champion of sportsmen issues for decades. His namesake Dingell-Johnson Act, also known as the Sportfishing Restoration Act, annually provides millions of dollars to states for fisheries, boat ramps and fishing access.

“Rep. Dingell understood and cared about sportsmen and their devotion to conservation,” said Rob Sexton, Vice President of Government Affairs of the U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance. “(Waxman) has voted for nearly all anti-firearm bills in Congress going back to the so-called ‘Assault Weapon Ban’ and the ‘Brady Bill.’ Both of those bills were punitive and designed to prohibit law abiding citizens from engaging in their constitutional rights.”