The term “bipartisan” is often used in our nation’s capitol more improperly and with more abandon than a lobbyist’s expense account, but sportsmen can rest assured that when it comes to issues affecting our hunting and outdoor pursuits, a dedicated alliance of senators and representatives from both political parties works tirelessly on our behalf.
Since it was established in 1989, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus has labored to protect the interests of America’s hunters, anglers and trappers in the United States Senate and House of Representatives.
There are literally hundreds of legislative caucuses registered with the U.S. Congress, ranging from the obscure to the well known. For example, many Americans are familiar with the Congressional Black Caucus, the Tea Party Caucus and Hispanic Caucus. On the other hand few might know about the Congressional Hockey Caucus, Bourbon Caucus and Kidney Caucus.
In addition to its distinction as the only congressional organization dedicated to hunting, conservation and sportsmen’s issues, the 300-member Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus is comprised of the most evenly divided number of republicans and democrats of any caucus on Capitol Hill. It operates as a true bipartisan entity to represent U.S. sportsmen, a fact that its members and the staff of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation take great pride in.
As the 112th U.S. Congress convened in Washington D.C. earlier this year, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus announced its newly elected leadership lineup, as it does at the beginning of each new session.
Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), Sen. John Thune (R-SD), Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) and Rep. Mike Ross (D-AR) were selected by their fellow sportsmen in the Caucus to serve as co-chairs. Leadership vice-chairs include: Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC), Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID), Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) and Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC).
“Members of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus have a long, rich history of producing legislation that effectively protects hunting, angling, trapping and effective fish and wildlife management, and with new leadership leading the way, we expect no less in the 112th Congress,” said Jeff Crane, president of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation.
Serving as the executive and management office for the caucus, the Washington, D.C.-based Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation also coordinates the National Assembly of Sportsmen’s Caucuses (NASC), comprised of nearly 2,000 state legislators and 38 state sportsmen caucuses throughout the nation as well as the Governor’s Sportsmen’s Caucus (GSC), launched in 2009.
Like the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus, the NASC and GSC are based upon the same bipartisan formula, but are instead focused on providing a voice for sportsmen in state capitols—at both the legislative and executive levels.
Sen. Tester Engages Sportsmen
Jon Tester, newly named Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus co-chair and a first-term senator from Montana, recently announced the creation of a panel of sportsmen and women from across his state to serve as his personal sounding board on issues of significance to the hunting and outdoors community.
Sen. Tester’s Montana Sportsmen’s Advisory Panel is the first panel of its kind formed to consult directly with a U.S. Senator.
Sen. Tester said his 19-member panel of Montanans will share their experiences as men and women actively engaged in hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities to aid in crafting legislation aimed at protecting Montana’s—and America’s—outdoor heritage.
“Montanans grow up surrounded by the many outdoor recreational opportunities our state has to offer, and we learn from an early age that it’s also our job to make sure we strengthen that heritage for our kids and grandkids,” Tester said. “The Montanans on this panel come from all walks of life, and all of them are experts in working together to make sure the next generation has the opportunities to hunt, fish, camp and hike. I look forward to their advice on how we can move forward with legislation to protect Montana’s rich outdoor heritage.”
Among other things, the Montana Senator said he plans to focus the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus on working to strengthen gun rights, remove wolves from the endangered species list, improve access to public land, and fight for clean water and healthy wildlife.
Tester’s innovative policy toward working directly with his state’s hunting leaders has attracted the attention of his peers, as well as others in the hunting and shooting sports community.
“The NRA looks forward to working with Senator Tester in his leadership role with the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus on these issues that are of great importance to the NRA and tens of millions of Americans,” said Christopher Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “The NRA is a leader in the effort to preserve America’s rich hunting heritage and improve hunting opportunities at the federal, state and local levels. For these efforts to continue to be successful, every hunter and hunting organization needs to speak with a strong and unified voice.”