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House to Take Up Noncontroversial Bills Week of April 7

The House will spend next week debating legislation that would impose tough new beach water quality testing and establish the National Landscape Conservation System, along with a mix of noncontroversial public health bills.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) indicated that the House will take up bipartisan legislation that would provide a statutory basis for the National Landscape Conservation System, which encompasses some 20 million acres of land administered by the Bureau of Land Management.

Lawmakers will also consider legislation that would impose more stringent beach water quality testing and public notification standards. The bill reauthorizes the BEACH Act, which requires the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure that states use the latest science to test beach waters, and authorizes an annual appropriation of $40 million to states through 2012.

Among the bills slated for the suspension calendar, which is typically reserved for noncontroversial legislation, are the Wakefield Act and the Cytology Proficiency Improvement Act.

Hoyer signaled that Democrats may be planning to use the Iraq War supplemental bill, which he has said could hit the floor in late April or early May, as a vehicle for other items.

“There are obviously needs in addition to Iraq that are being discussed, and I would tell my friend that those discussions are ongoing,” Hoyer said during a colloquy with House Republican Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). “A decision on what may or may not be added in addition to the supplemental that may be necessary for Iraq — there may be other things — that decision has not been made at this point in time.”

Blunt accused Democrats of leaving the door open to tacking pork projects onto the war spending bill.

In a statement, he said Democrats should “stop using the needs of our troops as blackmail for special interest projects.”

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