We’ve reported quite a bit on the Great American Outdoors Act, which combines full and permanent funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, as well as billions of dollars for maintenance and repairs in the national park system. Last month the Senate passed the bill in an overwhelming show of bipartisan support. Yesterday, the House did the same, finally sending the GAOA to the President, who is expected to sign after Tweeting in support of the legislation months ago.
Briefly, the bill allocates $900 million per year, forever, to the LWCF which goes largely toward acquiring sensitive lands for conservation and preserving access to public lands, while also tossing $6.5 billion over 5 years to the NPS to fix their incredible backlog of maintenance projects. The LWCF is the big deal in this legislation, a crucial program that has teetered on the precipice of outright elimination for years.
While support among Congress and the public is a rare and bright spot of bipartisanship, not all lawmakers support the bill. Utah Rep. Rob Bishop (R) and Senator Mike Lee (R) had urged Congress not to pass the legislation. They argued that spending on public lands during a time of soaring deficits was a financial misstep. The money that’s funneled into the LWCF comes from royalties earned by the federal government for allowing oil and gas drilling on public lands.
But their cries were unheeded, and the House passed the bill, 310-107.
JUST IN ➡️ The US House voted 310-107 to pass my bipartisan Great American @OutdoorsAct, landmark legislation to fully #FundLWCF and provide funding to #RestoreOurParks. This is a historic day for conservation and I look forward to @realDonaldTrump signing this bill into law. pic.twitter.com/3NGmU5ayUB
— Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) July 22, 2020
The bill now heads to President Trump’s desk, where he has 10 days to veto or sign it. He indicates he will.
We MUST protect our National Parks for our children and grandchildren. I am calling on the House to pass the GREAT AMERICAN OUTDOORS ACT today. Thanks @SenCoryGardner and @SteveDaines for all your work on this HISTORIC BILL!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 22, 2020