Last week, the U.S. Senate passed a spending measure called a “minibus” – a legislative package that contains multiple appropriations bills – which includes several of the recreational boating industry’s top funding priorities. NMMA outlined these measures in a letter to Congress earlier this year, calling the programs vital to promoting and protecting boating access and local economies that depend on the industry.
The minibus includes funding for the Department of Commerce, the Department of the Interior – two agencies that have significant impact on the industry – and important initiatives like Great Lakes restoration, marine sanctuaries, and outdoor recreation. Additionally, the outdoor recreation community is grateful for the inclusion of a study that would identify how much the federal government invests in outdoor recreation – an effort led by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
Securing funding for these programs has been a top NMMA priority, and the association said it appreciates the Senate’s work to approve these critical funding measures. Brief summaries of the specific provisions are below.
Several spending measures remain unfinished in the Senate, including funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. After the passage of last week’s minibus, the U.S. House and Senate can begin working out the differences in spending bills that have passed both chambers in a process known as “conference.”
NMMA said it will continue to monitor the appropriations process as it unfolds on Capitol Hill and advocate for the industry’s priorities with lawmakers and key staff.
Department of Commerce
- The bill would provide $1.5 million for the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account, which would continue the department’s analysis highlighting the impact that outdoor recreation has on the U.S. economy. Additionally, the bill directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to identify the federal programs that directly impact outdoor recreation.
- The bill provides $2.5 million for Modern Fish Act implementation, supporting efforts to improve fishery data collection.
- The bill also provides $61.5 million for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, including $6 million for NOAA’s efforts to improve and enhance recreational anglers’ and boaters’ experiences in National Marine Sanctuaries.
Department of the Interior
- The Senate bill provides $310 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI). Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) secured passage of an amendment to increase funding for the program, leading to a $10 million increase above the current level. GLRI is a critical program that works to protect and restore the Great Lakes through the prevention of aquatic invasive species, harmful algal blooms, and habitat restoration.
- The bill also provides $25 million for efforts to help prevent the spread of Asian carp into the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River Basin.