Today on the Hill: House Queues Up Public Lands Package

House lawmakers are eyeing passage of a measure seeking to bolster federal protections for public lands. The lower chamber will begin consideration of a package of bills out of the Natural Resources Committee (text; amendments) that would designate roughly 1.4 million square miles of new wilderness areas throughout the U.S., providing federal protections to thousands of acres in Colorado, Washington, and California. The Trump administration pushed back against the legislation in a veto threat earlier this week, arguing that the new wilderness designations would “greatly reduce opportunities for multiple uses on these public lands.” As such, the bill is not expected to be taken up in the GOP-controlled Senate.

In the upper chamber, Senators are set to take up four judicial confirmation votes today as they continue work on clearing presidential nominations. The Senate could also begin consideration of a “War Powers” resolution that would require President Donald Trump to withdraw any troops from military hostilities against Iran within 30 days. The resolution is expected to pass at some point this week after four GOP Senators — Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Todd Young (R-IN) — announced their support for the effort.

Meanwhile, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) secured a key victory in yesterday’s New Hampshire Democratic primary, narrowly edging out former South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 92 percent of precincts reporting. As a result of Sen. Sanders’ estimated 1.3 percent lead in the popular vote, both he and Mayor Buttigieg are expected to be awarded the nine of the Granite State’s 24 delegates, with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) earning six following a strong third place showing. The race for the Democratic presidential nomination will now shift toward the Nevada caucuses on Feb. 22, followed by the South Carolina primary election on Feb. 29.