Last month the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007 was reported out of committee with an amendment proposed by Congressman Bill Sali that would have reinstated the sale of public land for $5 per acre to any miner who proved up a mining claim on that land. The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 244 to 166 but did not include the Sali amendment.
Sali's explanations to the Lewiston Morning Tribune and the Spokane Spokesman-Review (sorry, both are subscription only) of why he sought to sell public mining land at give-away prices don't make any sense and prove, instead, his own ineffectiveness as a Congressman.
First he says he offered the amendment to stimulate debate. But there was no debate. In fact, there isn't even a record of why the amendment disappeared. Presumably, Sali pulled it. So, if he wanted to stimulate debate, why pull his own amendment?
Next he says that his proposed amendment would not have gone into effect because the moratorium on deeds to mining claims would continue. That moratorium, however, imposed by Congress since 1994, has been extended only on a year-to-year basis. Nothing requires that it be passed in any one year. Besides, if Sali really believed the moratorium was going to remain in effect, then why propose an amendment that would be immediately nullified by the moratorium?
Finally, Sali says he actually proposed 16 different amendments to the mining law, all of which were voted down in committee. Of course, the only one that he insisted be reported out was the one to reinstate selling public mining land for $5 per acre. But whether it was one or 16, it does seem to be a waste of the time and energy. If he really wanted to get something done, why not work to build a coalition of congressman to actually pass one of his proposals. Since he didn't, it is fair to assume that either not enough people would join him in the amendment or that he wasn't serious about getting it passed. Either way, it shows just how ineffective Congressman Sali really is.