Commentary: Pelosi must take stand on lands bill

This editorial appeared in The Sacramento Bee.

Here's an urgent task for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: Remove Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. The need became clear on Wednesday, when Peterson was instrumental in narrowly defeating a landmark public lands bill that was the result of years of bipartisan compromise.

The Senate passed this highly popular bill in January on a 73 to 21 vote. House members voted 244-182 in favor of the bill – two votes short of a needed two-thirds majority.

The problem: Peterson helped hold this noncontroversial bill hostage to amendments being pushed by the National Rifle Association. Specifically, the bipartisan Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (Senate Bill 22) was held up because the NRA wanted to attach an amendment that would create a law allowing concealed, loaded weapons in national parks.

For a committee chairman to allow the narrow agenda of a special interest group to take precedence over a broad-based bill in the national interest is unacceptable – particularly for someone who chairs a committee overseeing many of the nation's public lands.

Pelosi can't just let this pass. There have to be consequences.

For us in California, the stakes are huge.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Sacramento Bee.