07.10.20

U.S. House Problem Solvers Caucus Endorses Gardner’s Great American Outdoors Act

Washington, D.C. – Today the Problem Solvers Caucus officially endorsed U.S. Senator Cory Gardner’s (R-CO)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 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 Gardner and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). Problem Solvers U.S. 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 U.S. 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. 

“Protecting our public lands isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue – it’s an American issue,” said Senator 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.”

"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, 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 (D-SC). “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 (R-PA). “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.”

Gardner is a champion for the Land and Water Conservation Fund in the U.S. Senate:

  • On June 17, the U.S. Senate passed Gardner’s bipartisan bill, the Great American Outdoors Act with a strong bipartisan vote of 73-25.
  • Theodore Roosevelt IV, the great-grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt, urged passage of the Great American Outdoors Act in June 2020.
  • A new report from the National Park Service released in June 2020 highlighted the popularity of our National Parks and the significant contributions they make to the economy, as Congress considers Gardner’s legislation to address the $20 billion maintenance backlog on federal public lands.
  • In a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Gardner explained how the Great American Outdoors Act will boost Colorado’s economy and create thousands of jobs. To express what public lands mean to him, to Coloradans, and people all across our country, Gardner shared the story of Amache, a World War II Japanese-American internment camp he is pushing for Amache’s inclusion in the National Park System.
  • Outdoor recreation businesses wrote to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles Schumer in June 2020 in support of the Great American Outdoors Act, saying it would “support communities in all 50 states, support rural economies, create jobs to carry out essential work, and provide opportunities for millions of Americans to recreate on our public lands and waters for generations to come.”
  • In June 2020, Gardner led a bipartisan group of senators in calling for passage of the Great American Outdoors Act on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed Gardner’s Great American Outdoors Act in June 2020.
  • Six bipartisan former U.S. Secretaries of the Interior, including Coloradans Ken Salazar and Gale Norton, urged swift passage of Gardner’s Great American Outdoors Act in June 2020.
  • In May 2020, Gardner secured confirmation that the U.S. Senate would consider his Great American Outdoors Act in June.
  • In May 2020, more than 800 conservation groups sent a letter to congressional leadership supporting the passage of Gardner’s Great American Outdoors Act.
  • In April 2020, Gardner and other members of the Colorado congressional delegation called on leaders of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House to consider including Gardner’s Great American Outdoors Act in future COVID-19 legislation.
  • The day after introducing the Great American Outdoors Act, Gardner discussed this historic legislationwith U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt at a hearing held by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
  • In March 2020, Gardner introduced the Great American Outdoors Act to fully and permanently fund the LWCF and immediately address the nearly $20 billion in maintenance backlog at our public lands.
  • In March 2020, Colorado-based businesses and organizations called on Congress to pass Gardner’s legislation to fully and permanently fund the LWCF.
  • A broad group of conservation leaders in Colorado and around the country praised Senators Gardner and Daines for securing President Trump’s support for full and permanent LWCF funding and addressing the maintenance backlog on federal lands in March 2020.
  • Senators Gardner and Daines held a bipartisan press conference in March 2020 announcing they secured President Trump’s support for bipartisan legislation to provide full and permanent funding for the LWCF and address the $12 billion maintenance backlog in our national parks.
  • Gardner helped secure $495 million for the LWCF in December 2019, the highest funding level in more than 15 years.
  • Conservation groups in Colorado and across the country praised Gardner’s efforts to secure full and permanent funding for the LWCF in November 2019.
  • The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources passed S. 1081, the bipartisan Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act in November 2019, a bill introduced by Gardner that will make the full funding of LWCF mandatory every fiscal year.
  • In November 2019, Gardner received ConservAmerica’s “Congressional Champion” award for his strong record promoting conservation policies.
  • In October 2019, Gardner and a bipartisan group of Senators introduced an amendment to the appropriations bill to fully fund the LWCF.
  • The first ever state-level data on the outdoor recreation economy was released in September 2019, as a direct result of the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact (REC Act), introduced by Senators Gardner and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). President Obama signed the Outdoor REC Act into law in 2016.
  • Senators Gardner and Michael Bennet (D-CO) called on the leaders of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives to include full, permanent funding for the LWCF in the fiscal year 2020 funding agreement in September 2019.
  • Gardner, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), and a bipartisan group of Senators introduced the Land and Water Conservation Fund Permanent Funding Act in April 2019 to permanently fund the LWCF at $900 million every year.
  • Gardner received the 2019 National Park Heritage Award in April 2019 from the National Parks Conservation Association for his leadership in the signing into law of S. 47, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, which included permanent reauthorization of the LWCF.
  • In 2019, Gardner led the fight to pass and have signed into law by the President S. 47, the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, which included a Gardner-sponsored bill to permanently reauthorize the LWCF.
  • In November 2018, Gardner held a press conference with other LWCF champions in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives calling for the reauthorization and fully funding of America’s most important conservation program.
  • In October 2018, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed both the Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act, to fully fund and permanently reauthorize the LWCF, and the Restore our Park Act in October 2018. Gardner was a cosponsor of both pieces of legislation.
  • Gardner and 12 bipartisan colleagues in the U.S. Senate urged the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders to permanently reauthorize and fully fund the LWCF in August 2018 before it was set to expire.
  • In July 2018, Gardner and a bipartisan group of colleagues introduced an amendment to an appropriations bill to permanently authorize the LWCF before it was set to expire.
  • In a July 2018 op-ed in the Denver Post, Senators Gardner and Michael Bennet (D-CO) touted the importance of the LWCF to Colorado and said, “It is time for Congress to stop the serial, short-term extensions of this program and make LWCF permanent with the full dedicated funding it deserves.”
  • At a bipartisan LWCF press conference in June 2018, Gardner promoted the 100-day campaign to make the LWCF’s authorization permanent.
  • In a May 2018 op-ed in the Fort Collins Coloradoan, Gardner touted the importance of the LWCF as well as addressing the growing maintenance backlog on federal public lands.
  • Gardner introduced legislation to permanently reauthorize the LWCF with a bipartisan group of colleagues in April 2017.
  • In September 2016, Gardner and several of his colleagues wrote to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) requesting that permanent reauthorization of the LWCF be included in any final legislation that emerged from the energy bill conference.
  • In February 2016, Gardner spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate in support of the Energy Policy Modernization Act, which included permanent reauthorization of the LWCF.
  • In November 2015, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed permanent reauthorization of the LWCF with Gardner’s support.
  • Gardner and bipartisan colleagues sent a letter to Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid in November 2015 urging that permanent reauthorization of the LWCF be included in any must-pass year end legislation.
  • Gardner pressed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid for permanent reauthorization of the LWCF in September 2015.
  • In April 2015 the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on the reauthorization of the LWCF, which Gardner called “the nation’s most important conservation program.”
  • Gardner voted in favor of an amendment to permanently reauthorize the LWCF in his first month in the Senate.

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Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.