PROBLEM SOLVERS CAUCUS ENDORSES BILL TO ENSURE PUBLIC LANDS ARE PROTECTED AND PRESERVED
Great American Outdoors Act to be considered in the House of Representatives later this month
WASHINGTON – Today, the Problem Solvers Caucus officially endorsed the Great American Outdoors Act, a landmark conservation bill that will help ensure public lands are protected and preserved. The bipartisan legislation passed the Senate 73-25 and if signed into law would provide full, permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at a level of $900 million every year and address the approximately $20 billion maintenance backlog on federal public lands.
The Great American Outdoors Act was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Angus King (I-ME), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ). Problem Solvers Representatives Joe Cunningham (D-SC), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Kendra Horn (D-OK), John Katko (R-NY), and Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM) introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives. Reps. Cunningham and Fitzpatrick brought the bill to the Problem Solvers Caucus for endorsement where more than 75 percent of the 50-member caucus agreed to support the bill. House leadership announced it will consider the Great American Outdoors Act under a rule on the Floor at the end of July. President Trump has signaled he will sign the bill into law.
“With this endorsement, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus is supporting vital legislation to address the massive maintenance backlog impacting our National Parks,” said Problem Solvers Co-Chair Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ). “I’m very blessed to have the most beautiful District in the State of New Jersey, with all 72 miles of the Appalachian Trail that run through the Garden State, as well as the magnificent Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. We must work together to preserve these natural treasures for our future generations.”
“America’s public lands are some of the most beautiful and majestic places in the world and they must be protected,” said Problem Solvers Co-Chair Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY). “I’m proud to see the Problem Solvers Caucus endorse this bipartisan and bicameral bill that will help ensure public lands across the country are protected today and the years to come.”
“Over the past five decades, the LWCF has become the gold standard of conservation programs and has invested more than $303.5 million in South Carolina to protect its recreational areas and open spaces,” said Rep. Joe Cunningham. “Last year we permanently reauthorized LWCF and now the time has come to make its funding permanent. LWCF has enriched countless lives in the Lowcountry by protecting many of the places that make our community unique and irreplaceable, from the Folly Beach Boardwalk to Hunting Island State Park. I am encouraged by the strong bipartisan support for this legislation and I urge my colleagues in the House to pass the Great American Outdoors Act as soon as possible, so we can permanently fund LWCF and address the maintenance backlog across our national parks and public lands.”
“Since its establishment over 50 years ago, the LWCF has promoted recreational activity and contributed to the conservation of our national parks, forests, and critical wildlife areas. This vital program benefits millions of Americans in innumerable ways at the national, state, and local level. From promoting recreational activity to contributing to our economy, along with furthering environmental protection, treasured public lands in my community such as Nockamixon State Park, Tyler State Park, and venues such as Hatfield Community Park are all just a few of the examples of the beneficiaries of this valuable fund. I am encouraged by the strong bipartisan support for permanent funding of the LWCF,” said Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick. “Today, our national parks and public lands are in rough shape. Families who travel to our public lands are often met by roads, picnic areas, trails, campgrounds, and visitor centers that are damaged, run-down, or closed. The Great American Outdoors Act would also address the $12 billion maintenance backlog in our national parks and public lands. This important legislation would preserve and protect our nation’s public lands for generations, and I am happy to see the Problem Solvers endorse this bipartisan, landmark piece of legislation.”
“Protecting our public lands isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue – it’s an American issue,” said Senator Cory Gardner. “I’m proud that my bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act has earned the endorsement of the Problem Solvers Caucus, and I look forward to the U.S. House of Representatives passing this bill without delay in order to provide jobs to the American people, economic stimulus to communities in need, and protections for the great American outdoors for future generations of Americans to cherish.”
“The Great American Outdoors Act is a once in a generation opportunity for us to reinvest in our public lands and I am proud to have led a bipartisan group in the Senate to pass this historic legislation. As the House of Representatives prepares to take up the bill in the coming weeks, I am excited to see the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus endorse the GAOA. In addition to protecting our great outdoors, this bill is a much needed economic stimulus. I’ve seen firsthand the jobs that the outdoor recreation economy has brought to all areas of West Virginia. As our country faces historic unemployment, there is simply no better time to create outdoor recreation jobs. This is a historic achievement for conservation and a testament to the strong, bipartisan work that is still possible when we put politics aside to do what is best for our country,” said Senator Joe Manchin.
“America’s natural beauty has been passed down from generation to generation, creating an untold number of lifelong memories – and we must protect these lands for our children, and their children. Unfortunately, we’ve fallen short on this responsibility for too long, leaving the National Park Service with a $12 billion backlog of maintenance projects in national parks from Acadia to Zion, and regularly allowing funding for the widely popular LWCF to get caught up in unrelated political squabbles,” said Senator Angus King. “This is an issue that truly transcends politics – because a sunrise from Cadillac Mountain inspires the same awe in everyone, no matter how you vote in November. These lands are a great unifier – a distinctly American legacy, that we inherited from those that came before us. With its overwhelming bipartisan passage in the Senate, I am encouraged that the Problem Solvers in the House will work to build consensus around the bill, to ensure that millions of people are able to connect with the wonders that surround us for years to come.”
“The Great American Outdoors Act will help to ensure both current and future generations can enjoy the pristine beauty of our natural resources in Maine and across the county,” said Senator Susan Collins. “By providing guaranteed funding for LWCF, this legislation builds on our recent accomplishment of permanently reauthorizing our country’s most successful conservation and outdoor recreation program. Its funding has been used to open up key areas for hunting, fishing, and recreational access; support working forests and ranches; protect critical lands in national parks, national wildlife refuges, and national forests; and to support state and local projects, from ball parks to recreation trails. It would also allow the National Park Service and other federal agencies to complete much-needed repairs and maintenance.”
“Protecting Arizona’s public lands strengthens our outdoor recreation industry, boosting opportunities for Arizona businesses and creating good-paying jobs,” said Senator Kyrsten Sinema.
“Our public lands are a place for family gatherings, exploration, learning, and economic opportunity. They foster healthy economies, healthy ecosystems, and healthy people,” said Rep. Kendra Horn. “Each year in Oklahoma, outdoor recreation supports 97,000 jobs statewide and generates billions of dollars in wages and consumer spending. I am excited to see the Problem Solvers Caucus endorse this historic, bipartisan legislation to protect our public lands and permanently fund the LWCF. We must protect our great outdoors for this and future generations to enjoy.”
“I introduced the Great American Outdoors Act alongside Reps. Cunningham and Fitzpatrick, and I am pleased today to join the Problem Solvers Caucus in endorsing this bipartisan bill,” said Rep. John Katko. “As an avid outdoorsman, I strongly believe we must take steps to preserve and protect our public lands for future generations. The Great American Outdoors Act serves as a strong starting point by fully and permanently funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund and addressing the maintenance backlog of billions of dollars across our National Park System. In doing so, we will provide much-needed investments in our public lands, waterways, and wetlands, ensuring they will be able to thrive and flourish for years to come.”
“Upstate New York is home to some of the greatest outdoor recreation spots in the world. They drive tourism, create good-paying jobs, and are an important part of our economy,” said Rep. Anthony Brindisi. “This bipartisan legislation will give our great outdoor spaces the care and attention they deserve. By taking care of the maintenance backlog and permanently and fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the Great American Outdoors Act makes sure our public lands can be enjoyed by all Americans for generations to come.”
“The Great American Outdoors Act is a major victory for our public lands as well as the local economies and natural ecosystems that they sustain,” said Rep. Fred Upton. “Our national parks are real treasures, and we must always work together to conserve their beauty and protect the great American outdoors that we all cherish. I am proud to cosponsor this legislation and am grateful for the PSC’s support as we work to make this bill law.”
“America’s public lands and national parks are among our greatest treasures. Unfortunately, inadequate and inconsistent funding has made it difficult for our national parks and public lands to improve their infrastructure and engage in other conservation efforts,” said Rep. Salud Carbajal. “The Great American Outdoors Act is a timely investment to address these challenges. I am especially pleased the bill includes permanent funding for the Land Water Conservation Fund, our most important tool to preserve our parks and public lands for the next generation to inherit.”
“America’s national parks hold a pivotal role in our country with families enjoying them every day. But, with more than $12 billion in deferred maintenance projects piling up across our parks, the future of our parks could be in danger,” said Rep. Will Hurd. “The Great American Outdoors Act would provide these parks with the ability to make these updates so our parks are around for another 100 years. My district is home to eight national parks—each showcasing unique and amazing natural beauty—so I know the incredible value these parks hold. As the co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on National Parks, I am proud to cosponsor this legislation and to see the Problem Solvers Caucus endorse it. Now we must work together to push this bill through both chambers of Congress so future generations will have the same opportunity we do in appreciating the beauty, history and incredible environmental treasures of our parks.”
“Arizona’s First Congressional District is home to some of the most beautiful, culturally rich public lands in our country. These parks, monuments, and historic sites also bring in billions for our state and local economies each year,” said Rep. Tom O’Halleran.“Maintenance of public lands plays a critical role in the health of our wildlife, the preservation of Native American cultural sites, the mitigation of deadly wildfires, and the strength of our economy. I’m proud to join my colleagues on this bill to permanently fund the LWCF and preserve our public lands for generations to come.”
“America’s lands are a national treasure, and we owe it to our country and the beautiful state of Nebraska to ensure that our public lands and national parks are protected and kept in the best condition possible,” said Rep. Don Bacon. “I am pleased to cosponsor the Great American Outdoors Act which will generate billions of dollars in revenue, create over 100,000 jobs, and ensure that people from all over America will be able to truly enjoy our nation’s wildlife and the great outdoors for generations to come.”
“The bipartisan support for the Great American Outdoors Act is a no brainer to support, maintain, and improve our public lands and national parks,” said Rep. Tom Suozzi. “I love our national parks and encourage all Americans to enjoy our awesome gift of unspoiled nature and to work to preserve them for generations of Americans to come.”
“The Great American Outdoors Act recognizes the crucial importance of protecting and conserving our public lands, including southern Nevada’s most precious public lands like Red Rock Canyon, Sloan Canyon, and Lake Mead,” said Rep. Susie Lee. “During this pandemic, more and more people have come to understand the value of having public land resources. But, to have public lands, we need permanent resources. The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a smart, long-term solution to not just protect our public lands, but to strengthen our communities and economy by bringing jobs and funding to Nevada to support park maintenance and conservation. The Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act with support from both parties, and now it’s time for the House to do our part to protect our planet.”
The Problem Solvers Caucus is a bipartisan group in Congress comprised of 50 members – equally divided between Democrats and Republicans – who are committed to forging bipartisan cooperation on key issues. It is co-chaired by Congressman Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY).