Former Montana Dem Senator John Melcher Dies At 93

CQ Archive/CQ-Roll Call Group

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Former U.S. Sen. John Melcher, a Montana Democrat who narrowly lost his bid for a third term in 1988 just days after a wilderness bill he championed was vetoed, has died at 93.

His daughter, Joan Melcher, said Melcher died Thursday at his home in Missoula.

Melcher’s 35-year political career included seven years in the House and two terms in the U.S. Senate.

During his time in Washington, Melcher largely stuck to bread-and-butter issues for a farm-state lawmaker, such as crop subsidies and overseas trade.

In 1988, he co-sponsored a much-debated bill to permanently set aside 1.4 million acres of public land as wilderness, while opening an additional 4 million acres to logging, drilling, mining and tourism.

President Ronald Reagan vetoed the wilderness bill just days before the election that Melcher lost to Republican Conrad Burns.

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