House bill would pay back the states for opening national parks

More than a dozen members of the House have proposed legislation that would require the federal government to pay back states for the costs of running national parks during the shutdown.

The Protecting States, Opening National Parks Act, H.R. 3286, would require the government to reimburse states for these costs no more than 90 days after federal appropriations are available again.

The bill, from Rep. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), was introduced one day after the National Park Service said it would let three states reopen certain parks that were closed because of the shutdown. The Interior Department says it is willing to make similar arrangements with other states that are willing to foot the bill for opening the parks.

ADVERTISEMENT
Daines welcomed that announcement, but said Congress needs to ensure that states are eventually paid back.

"While I'm pleased that the Obama administration has finally relented and allowed individual states to get our National Parks open again, it's unacceptable that a state like Montana could be forced to bear even more of a financial burden because of Washington's failures," he said in a statement over the weekend.

"The attitude and actions of the Park Service during this shutdown have again shown that when it comes to managing lands, states can do a better job," Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), a cosponsor of the bill, said in the release. "This bill would empower states to make life better for the people of the West when Washington fails."

Fourteen other House members are sponsors of the bill, including one Democrat, Utah Rep. Jim Matheson.

Daines is considering a run for Senate in 2014 as Republicans look to pick up the seat from retiring Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.).