NMMA advocates for long-term spending bill

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The longest federal government shutdown in history ended last week when the Trump administration and Congress agreed to a three-week stopgap bill that funds the government through Feb. 15.

The shutdown “hit close to home for the boating community,” said the National Marine Manufacturers Association in its Currents e-newsletter. The group is encouraging federal leaders to reach a long-term agreement that keeps the government open beyond the middle of February.

The shutdown caused major problems for the outdoor recreation industry, according to the NMMA, which accounts for 2.2 percent of the nation’s economy, $734 billion in gross output, $887 billion in consumer spending and supports 4.6 million American jobs.

Cancelled visits to federal recreation sites resulted in both public and private sector losses, from which it will take a time to recover. In addition, the shutdown exacerbated the $11 billion public lands and waters maintenance backlog.

Various permitting processes through the Environmental Protection Agency also were affected by the furlough. As a result, the government was unable to approve waiver requests sought by manufacturers. However, there was a silver lining to the staff shortage: The EPA indicated that year-round sale of E15 many not receive formal approval ahead of summer.

Fisheries management, national marine sanctuary protection and ocean exploration was put on hold, as those are managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Coast Guard members had to work without pay.

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