House committee passes pay-back bill for shuttered parks

Legislation that mandates states be paid for the costs of running national parks during the government shutdown passed the House Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday.

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In a voice vote, the committee approved Rep. Steve Daines's (R-Mont.) bill, H.R. 3286, which would require the Treasury Department to reimburse states that paid for the cost of reopening of parks

Montana did not reopen its parks during the 16-day government shutdown.

Relenting to pressure from governors, the administration agreed to let six states reopen their national parks during the shutdown: Arizona, Utah, Colorado, South Dakota, New York and Tennessee.

Republicans blasted President Obama and the Interior Department for barricading the World War II Memorial and other national park sites during the shutdown, arguing it was unnecessary.

Top Interior Department officials have said Congress must authorize the back payments to states.

A copy of the “donation agreement” between the department and states makes clear that the money donated for the operation of national parks would only be returned if Congress passed appropriations before they were used.