Billings, MT -

Republicans in Congress say a 40-year-old law meant to protect animals and plants from extinction has become bogged down by litigation and needs to be updated.

A group of 13 GOP lawmakers released a report Tuesday detailing their proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act, one of the nation's cornerstone environmental laws.

Proponents credit the act with staving off extinction for hundreds of species -- from the bald eagle and American alligator to the gray whale. President Richard Nixon signed it into law in December 1973.

Republicans say only 2 percent of protected species have been declared recovered, despite billions of dollars in federal spending. They want to curtail lawsuits from environmentalists and give states more say over proposed protections.