Today, U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) applauded the announcment by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) that the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) will be brought to the House floor for consideration under an open process, instead of being jammed through without members voices being allowed to be heard.
Last week, Congressman Gosar and 19 of his colleagues sent a letter to House leadership asking for the GAOA to be brought to the House floor under an open rule, so improvements can be made to the bill. The Majority Leader's announcment states that the bill will be brought to the floor under a rule, at the end of July.
"The Great American Outdoors Act is an extremely consequential piece of legislation. If passed as is, the Land and Water Conservation Fund would be permanently reauthorized at $900 million a year. Congress would be giving its seal of approval to reckless land buying and would be completely giving up its oversight responsiblities of the progam. I am pleased that the Majority Leader and other members of House leadership have heard our request and will bring this bill to the floor under a more open process, so that members can attempt to make much needed improvements to this legislation," said Congressman Gosar.
The Great American Outdoors Act would permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and provide funding to address the maintenance backlog at our National Parks. As of Fiscal Year 2018, the Department of the Interior alone had a deferred maintenance backlog of $16.4 billion.
According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), over the 55 year history of the LWCF, 60% of money spent by the program has gone to buying land for the federal government. Currently, the federal govrnment controls 46.4% of the land in the 11 Western states, including nearly 40% of the state of Arizona. Federal land is not taxable by state and local government, therefore states and counties with high percentages of public land have signficant strains on essential services like public education, ambulatory services, and infrastructure maintenance.
A letter from stakeholder groups, including the Arizona Cattle Growers Association, opposing this legislation can be seen HERE.