In a near-unanimous vote late Tuesday evening, the House of Representatives approved a bill striking down the Biden administration’s decision to block federal funding for school shooting sports courses.
The Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act, introduced by Rep. Mark Green (R-TN), was approved by a vote of 424-1, with only Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX) voting against it. The bipartisan support for the legislation reflects the widespread concern over the administration’s decision to withhold funds for school hunting and archery courses.
Speaking after the vote, Green emphasized the importance of hunting and its conservation benefits. He stated that “Hunters and fishers are the best conservationists” and that hunting helps control wildlife populations and protects our natural lands. He also highlighted the benefits of these activities for children, saying that they foster an appreciation for nature and teach kids to focus on a goal.
The decision to block funding for school shooting sports programs came after a Fox News Digital report in late July revealed that the Department of Education was withholding funds for courses on hunting and archery. This decision was based on the administration’s interpretation of the 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA), which prohibits the use of federal funds for training in the use of dangerous weapons.
The guidance from the Department of Education, obtained by Fox News Digital, classified hunting and archery courses as “training in the use of dangerous weapons” because they involve the use of firearms and bows. This led to many schools cancelling these programs due to the lack of funding.
Proponents of the bill, including the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP), criticized the administration’s interpretation of the law. Lawrence Keane, NSSF’s senior vice president, accused the Department of Education of violating the law and urged Congress to hold them accountable. Tommy Floyd, president of NASP, noted that the program has over 1.3 million students enrolled from nearly 9,000 schools and argued that the decision to withhold funding would harm students’ educational opportunities.
Despite pressure from advocacy groups and lawmakers from both parties, the Department of Education has maintained its stance on the issue. They have stated that they will only reverse their decision if legislation is passed explicitly revising the BSCA to allow funding for these programs. In response, three of the four BSCA Senate sponsors, Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), have introduced a companion bill in the Senate to Green’s.
Supporters of the Protecting Hunting Heritage and Education Act argue that the BSCA was never intended to to prohibit funding for these programs and that the administration is misinterpreting the law. Sen. Cornyn, who introduced the Senate version of the bill, stated that the “Biden administration’s misinterpretation of these provisions has jeopardized educational enrichment programs” and called for a swift passage of the bill in the Senate.
Democratic senators have also voiced their opposition to the administration’s decision. Ten Democratic senators have spoken out against the decision, highlighting the benefits of these programs for students and the need to clarify the intent of the BSCA.
The fight over funding for school shooting sports courses is far from over. The bill now moves to the Senate, and its fate will determine the future of these programs in schools across the country. As the debate continues, proponents of the legislation argue that it is critical to protect the rights of hunters, promote conservation, and provide valuable educational opportunities for students.