Last week, the United States Senate passed a spending measure known as a legislative package consisting of many appropriations bills. Known as a “minibus,” it included several recreational boating industry funding priorities.
The National Marine Manufacturers Association outlined the 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 initiatives like Great Lakes restoration, marine sanctuaries and outdoor recreation. Also, the legislation includes 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 measures has been a top NMMA priority. Several spending measures remain unfinished in the Senate, including funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. After passage of the minibus, Congress can start working out the differences in spending bills that have passed both chambers.
In the Department of Commerce, a bill would provide $1.5 million for the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account that would continue the department’s analysis highlighting the impact that outdoor recreation has on the U.S. economy. The bill also directs the Government Accountability Office to identify the federal programs that directly impact outdoor recreation. The bill also provides $2.5 million for implementation of the Modern Fish Act and it provides $61.5 million for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, including $6 million for the administration’s office to improve and enhance recreational anglers’ and boaters’ experiences in National Marine sanctuaries.
In the Department of the Interior, the Senate bill establishes $310 million for the Great Lake Restoration Initiative. Senator Gary Peters (D-Mich.) secured passage of an amendment to increase funding for the program, leading to a $10 million increase above the current level. 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.