The U.S. Senate voted 80-17 Monday to take up the Great American Outdoors Act, a bill championed by Sen. Mark Warner that would permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and address the $12 billion maintenance backlog at National Park Sites across the country.
The bipartisan legislation includes Sen. Warner’s Restore Our Parks Act, which would help tackle the $1.1 billion in deferred maintenance at Virginia’s parks and create up to 10,340 jobs in the Commonwealth alone.
The procedural vote – known as a “cloture vote on the motion to proceed” – sets up the bill for a final up-or-down vote in the Senate later this week.
“We are one step closer to passing this critical bill that would preserve our cherished national parks and help create jobs in the Commonwealth during this time of economic crisis. For years, I have been sounding the alarm about urgently-needed repairs to our trails, buildings, roads, and bridges that have been ignored for too long,” said Sen. Warner.
“If Congress continues to delay addressing these infrastructure challenges, our local communities will be at further risk of losing out on important tourism dollars on top of the economic challenges they are currently facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With Virginia’s national parks supporting more than 16,000 jobs and contributing $953 million dollars in value added to our economy, that’s a loss we just can’t afford.
After clearing an important first step on this bipartisan bill today, we’re now closer than ever to making sure our bipartisan solution to the parks backlog becomes law.”
Last week, the National Park Service released a report that estimated that an average of 40,300 direct jobs and 100,100 direct and indirect jobs would be supported nationally by the Restore Our Parks Act if passed as part of the Great American Outdoors Act.