Congress is poised for a rare bipartisanship win next month when the House takes up a major public lands bill.
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced Monday the House in July will vote on the Great American Outdoors Act, which would permanently fund land and water conservation efforts and provide billions to fund neglected park maintenance.
The Senate passed the measure with broad bipartisan support last week and a group of Republicans and Democrats have introduced a companion measure in the House.
Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat, said not enough House Republicans back the measure to clear it from Congress under special rules limiting debate and requiring two-thirds support for passage. Instead, Hoyer said, he will bring up the measure under regular rules that would potentially allow for amendments and require longer debate time.
“I look forward to seeing it pass the House with strong bipartisan support and being sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law,” Hoyer said.
President Trump supports the bill in current form and said he’ll sign it.
House passage and Trump’s signature would mark a rare moment of bipartisanship between the two parties, who have been mostly divided on major policy and spending issues.
The bill would help pay for a long list of needed needed repairs at national parks nationwide.
In Virginia, for example, money is needed for upkeep at the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, where Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Norther Virginia — the main Confederate army — to U.S. Army Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. The park awaits more than $3 million in maintenance and repairs.
The National Parks maintenance overall backlog totals $12 billion. According to the National Parks Conservation Association, the National Park Service “is second only to the Department of Defense in the amount of infrastructure it manages.”
The measure sets up a restoration fund for the parks that would be funded by up to $1.9 billion in royalties derived from federal energy development projects. It would also make permanent federal funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which was created in 1964 but has been depleted over the decades.
The Senate passed the bill on June 17 by a vote of 73-25.
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