McConnell Praises the Great American Outdoors Act
‘Today, we’ll take our first vote to advance the Great American Outdoors Act, a generational bill from Senator Daines and Senator Gardner that will secure the future of our nation’s natural treasures.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the Great American Outdoors Act:
“While the Senate remains the only chamber in this Capitol with its lights on, we are going to continue with legislative work for the country.
“Today, we’ll take our first vote to advance the Great American Outdoors Act, a generational bill from Senator Daines and Senator Gardner that will secure the future of our nation’s natural treasures.
“America is home to 419 National Park sites, 568 National Wildlife Refuges, and hundreds of millions of acres of public lands.
“Every year, millions of Americans turn to these lands for recreation, inspiration, and for their livelihoods. These resources exist because of the visionary actions of prior Congresses. Now it is our turn to secure them for generations yet to come.
“Our colleagues’ legislation does two big things: It improves access to parks and public lands by investing in maintenance and upkeep, and it secures permanent support for the missions of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
“Their legislation has already persuaded 59 cosponsors here in the Senate. It’s earned the bipartisan endorsement of the last six former Secretaries of the Interior. And a diverse coalition of independent advocates -- from the Nature Conservancy to the Outdoor Industry Association to the American Battlefield Trust -- have called on us to pass this bill.
“This bill has unusually broad, bipartisan, and vocal support -- because the issues at hand affect so many different communities so concretely.
“Every year, visitors to America’s national parks bring more than $40 billion dollars in economic impact to the gateway towns that surround them.
“The state and local parks stewarded by the LWCF help generate another $166 billion in local economic activity and support more than 1.1 million jobs.
“My fellow Kentuckians and I know this firsthand. At least 120,000 jobs are supported by active outdoor recreation in the Commonwealth.
“From hunters and anglers in the Daniel Boone National Forest to tourists visiting Mammoth Cave, our state’s natural treasures occasion nearly $13 billion dollars in annual consumer spending.
“But Kentuckians also know that tight budgets for maintenance often mean that historic sites go without important repairs and upgrades that would ensure safe access and smooth operations. So we’re acutely aware of the need to address the deferred maintenance backlog, which this legislation tackles head-on.
“So I’m very grateful to our colleagues from Montana and Colorado for shepherding this legislation. I’m proud of the stand they’ve taken in support of our nation’s natural wonders and the millions of American livelihoods that depend on them.
“I look forward to discussing this landmark legislation more in the days ahead, to supporting it here on the floor, and to urging every one of my colleagues to join me.”