WASHINGTON -- Despite overwhelming bipartisan appeal, prospects are fading for congressional approval of a widely heralded $45 billion land conservation proposal that has fallen victim to a congressional turf fight and determined opposition from a handful of Western senators.
The legislation, which would commit the government to spend $3 billion a year for 15 years on a wide range of land conservation efforts, cleared the House earlier this year by a 3-1 margin. Recently, 63 senators urged Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., to call it up for a floor vote.
But its supporters acknowledged Wednesday that the proposal as once envisioned was all but dead, with negotiations now focusing on a significantly scaled back land conservation proposal, whose fate also was uncertain.
Protection of open spaces gained growing interest on Capitol Hill and at the White House.
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