Restore Our Parks Act Moves Closer to House Vote
The Restore Our Parks Act, a bipartisan bill to boost National Parks Service funding to cover a deferred maintenance backlog, has passed a key hurdle and should be ready for a vote soon in the U.S. House. The National Parks Service could see an influx of funding to cover its deferred maintenance backlog, thanks to the legislation which has so far attracted 317 bipartisan cosponsors.
Votes on the bill have been delayed slightly by Congressional Democrats, who insisted the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) rate the bill before a floor vote could be scheduled. Congress received this before the October recess.
“There are no more hurdles necessary that this legislation needs to jump through to meet the criteria for a floor vote, so we intend to continue urging Democrats to schedule the time,” Austin Hacker, press secretary for the House Committee on Natural Resources, told Western Wire. “The ball is in their court.”
House leadership hopes to schedule a vote in the coming weeks, Hacker said.
The CBO found that the bill would have a negligible effect on federal spending because it diverts funds that would otherwise go into the Federal Treasury.
A similar piece of legislation, which would also have used oil and gas leasing revenues to fund the National Park Service’s deferred maintenance, was introduced last year, but failed to pass the Senate before the end of the legislative session. At the time, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), now chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, told reporters he did not think Senate Republicans were interested in a bill that could increase the federal deficit by diverting revenues that would otherwise flow into the Treasury.
The Parks Service has been struggling to complete more than $11.9 billion in deferred maintenance projects across the park system. Despite investing more than $671 million into deferred maintenance last year, repair needs still increased $300 million since 2017.
Using royalty and leasing fee monies paid by companies developing energy and mineral resources on public lands, the Restore Our Parks Act would direct up to $1.3 billion annually to priority repairs in the park service.