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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Risch today praised final passage of the amended Helium Stewardship Act by unanimous consent of the full Senate. Risch, a senior member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, along with Chairman Wyden and Ranking Member Murkowski, had approved the legislation at the committee level. The Helium Stewardship Act passed the House of Representatives yesterday by a 367-0 vote.

The bill authorizes continued sales from the Federal Helium Reserve which was scheduled to close in October 2013.

“I am pleased that Congress has come together to avoid a worldwide helium market disruption,” said Risch. “Helium is critical to the Idaho economy as well as the national economy. It is an essential component to the work being done by high-tech manufacturers and the medical industry. Additionally, I am pleased to note that a portion of the revenue generated from this bill will pay for one year of Secure Rural Schools, with another portion of revenue from the bill being used to pay down our nation’s deficit. I encourage President Obama to sign this bill into law immediately.”

The Secure Rural Schools program was reauthorized for about $270 million for Fiscal Year 2014 as part of the amended H.R. 527, the Helium Stewardship Act.  Under provisions in the legislation, sales from the proceeds of the nation’s helium reserves could go to select programs plus pay down the federal deficit.