Analysis: Great American Outdoors Act passed due to Senate races

-The Hagstrom Report

The Great American Outdoors Act, which creates a fund for the national parks, passed partly because several Repubican House members and senators in the western states face elections this year, a Harvard lecturer said in an interview published this week.

“The national parks are intertwined with the economy of Western states. Visitor spending in and around national parks — which are mostly located in the West — contributed more than $40 billion to the U.S. economy last year and supported 340,500 jobs,” Linda Bilmes, the Daniel Patrick Moynihan senior lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, told The Harvard Gazette.

“But these communities are now struggling and many of the jobs related to tourism have been lost,” Bilmes wrote. “The GAOA is expected to create more than 108,000 new jobs to repair park infrastructure, including access roads and bridges in these adjacent communities.

“In general, support for the national parks cuts across party lines. But this year, several incumbent Republican senators and members of Congress face tough electoral battles in November.

“Republican Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado is running against the popular former Gov. John Hickenlooper, and Montana’s Republican Sen. Steve Daines is running neck and neck with Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock. These two seats are critical to Republican hopes of holding the Senate. This is the main reason that President Trump, who had rejected previous efforts to fund the LWCF, agreed to sign the legislation.”