HNR Passes RAWA to Provide Direct Funding for Tribal Wildlife Conservation Programs

House Natural Resources Committee Passes RAWA to Provide Direct Funding for Tribal Wildlife Conservation Programs

Yesterday, the House Natural Resources Committee (HNR) voted to advance H.R. 2773, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA), by a 29-15 vote.

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) is the bill’s lead sponsor. The bill currently has 151 bipartisan co-sponsors. The RAWA would update federal wildlife conservation programs, first established in the 1950s, and set aside $97 million annually in direct funding for Tribal Government wildlife conservation programs. The current programs only provide funding to state governments, forcing tribes to seek pass-through funding.

While the bill received some bipartisan support in the Committee vote, HNR Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-AR) and other Republicans on the Committee voiced opposition to the bill because of concerns it would add to the federal deficit. After the vote, Rep. Dingell stated that she would work with GOP lawmakers to secure a funding mechanism for the program.

Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) has introduced the Senate companion bill to H.R. 2773. The Heinrich bill, S. 2372 (also titled RAWA), has 32 bipartisan co-sponsors (16 R, 16 D). The Senate bill includes a partial offset to fund the program by collecting fees and fines imposed by the Fish & Wildlife Service for natural resource or environmental-related violations.

The Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works held a hearing on S. 2372 on December 8, 2022.