Unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, no amendments will be allowed during floor consideration of this bill, as leadership once again undermines the deliberative process in the chamber. Therefore, instead, we will score against waiving budgetary points of order on the Great American Outdoors Act as they are raised and reserve the right to score any related votes as well. Regardless of the process, our concerns with the bill and our reasons for engagement are outlined below.
The Great American Outdoors Act, the legislative vehicle for which is H.R. 1957, would create the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund, which would be financed by revenues collected from the sale of oil, gas, coal, and other energy produced on federally owned land and waters to support deferred maintained projects in federal parks and other federally owned lands. The bill would also make the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) permanent, bringing it outside the annual congressional appropriations process.
Additionally, the Great American Outdoors Act would require the LWCF to purchase more land annually at a time when the federal government already owns roughly 28 percent of land in the United States. The federal government owns a majority of land in a handful of states, including Nevada (80.1 percent), Utah (63.1 percent), and Idaho (61.9 percent).
The Great American Outdoors Act shifts LWCF spending from discretionary spending subject to congressional appropriation to mandatory spending. In FY 2019, mandatory spending represented 61.4 percent of all federal spending. This spending is on autopilot and not subject to annual congressional appropriation. Discretionary spending is subject to annual appropriation and represented 30 percent of federal spending in FY 2019. As Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) noted in his floor speech on Tuesday, the Great American Outdoors Act “will cost nearly $17.3 billion over the next 10 years…all for land projects that we cannot afford, let alone maintain.”
FreedomWorks supports invoking budgetary points of order against the Great American Outdoors Act and opposes efforts to waive them. Waiving a point of order requires 60 votes. If the point of order is sustained, failing to get the required 60 votes, the Great American Outdoors Act would return to the committee of jurisdiction.