Sen. Lamar Alexander remarks on Great American Outdoors legislation

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WASHINGTON (WATE) — Senator Lamar Alexander’s (R-Tenn.) gave remarks Thursday on the Great American Outdoors Act, which he says he hopes gets passed.

According to Alexander’s office, the legislation he sponsored has the strong support of President Trump, over 800 conservation and sportsmen’s organizations and 59 Senate cosponsors – that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced the Senate will consider next week. 

Alexander said the Great American Outdoors Act “would be the most significant conservation legislation enacted by Congress in at least half a century.” 

During his remarks on the Senate floor, the senator mentioned the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

“The [Great Smoky Mountains National Park] has a $20 million a year budget,” Alexander said. “How long do you think it’s going to take a $20 million annual budget to deal with $224 million dollars of deferred maintenance? It’s never going to happen. It’s never going to happen without this piece of legislation or something like it.

“There’s nothing any of us want to do more than get outside of our homes and get the fresh air. And these are the lands where we go to do that. Some of them are city parks, some are big parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite and the Great Smokies, but they’re our treasures and they are run down. The bathrooms leak, the sewage systems have closed campgrounds, and the visitor centers are embarrassing. In some cases the roads have potholes and the access roads aren’t built for the fishermen. This is a chance to take care of that. So I’m looking forward to the vote on cloture on Monday. I hope we get a big vote and send a strong signal to the American people that we in the Congress have heard them that even in a time of crisis like this that we can work together and do important work.”

The Great American Outdoors Act will fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund permanently – something Congress has been trying to do since 1964.

The legislation also includes the Restore Our Parks Act – legislation Alexander introduced that would cut in half the maintenance backlog at national parks and help restore the 419 national parks so Americans can enjoy them.

The legislation also provides funding to help other public lands address their maintenance backlog, such as the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Education.

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