Both chambers of the U.S. Congress took important steps to reauthorize the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund (Trust Fund) – a program that supports about $650 million annually in fishery restoration and conservation efforts, boating access and infrastructure, as well as fish stocking programs important to recreational anglers. Reauthorizing the Trust Fund is a top priority of the recreational boating community, and the actions on both sides of the Capitol drew praise from NMMA, who helped spearhead the efforts.
In the U.S. House of Representatives, lawmakers approved a large infrastructure measure that included the Sport Fish Restoration and Recreational Boating Safety Act of 2019 – legislation that specifically reauthorizes the Trust Fund. Led by boating industry champions Representatives Joe Cunningham (D-SC-01) and Garett Graves (R-LA-06), the bill is also supported by Representatives Austin Scott (R-GA-08), Mark Veasey (D-TX-33), Debbie Dingell (D-MI-12), Rob Wittman (R-VA-01), and Greg Murphy (R-NC-03).
Following the vote in the House, U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced companion Trust Fund reauthorization legislation. According to NMMA, there is broad bipartisan support in the Senate for advancing the measure and sending it to President Trump before the end of the year.
In addition to reauthorizing the Trust Fund, both measures would require studies on the use of funds for non-motorized vessel waterway access as well as the impact of abandoned vessels. NMMA has long advocated for these studies and thanks the bills’ sponsors for including the provisions.