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McConnell gives two vulnerable senators a boost with vote on outdoor recreation bill

McConnell gives two vulnerable senators a boost with vote on outdoor recreation bill
© Greg Nash

Two vulnerable GOP senators got a boost to their reelection bids Thursday when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump shows he holds stranglehold on GOP, media in CPAC barnburner Trump rules out starting a new party: 'Fake news' Sunday shows - Trump's reemergence, COVID-19 vaccines and variants dominate MORE (R-Ky.) promised to bring a major outdoor recreation bill to the floor next month.

McConnell handed a win to Republican Sens. Cory GardnerCory GardnerBiden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program Gardner to lead new GOP super PAC ahead of midterms OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule | Bureau of Land Management exodus: Agency lost 87 percent of staff in Trump HQ relocation | GM commits to electric light duty fleet by 2035 MORE (Colo.) and Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesIndigenous groups post billboards urging senators to confirm Deb Haaland Kennedy apologizes for calling Haaland a 'whack job' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Ahead: One-shot vax, easing restrictions, fiscal help MORE (Mont.) when he said the chamber would take up their Great American Outdoors Act next month.

The legislation would permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which provides money to protect and conserve habitats of endangered species, develop parks and outdoor recreation sites and protect sensitive forests. It’s a boon to hunters and fishers as it protects certain areas from development.

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McConnell made the announcement after working out a deal with Gardner on Thursday afternoon to allow the Senate to recess for the week of Memorial Day — something Gardner threatened to object to because the Senate has failed to draft a new round of coronavirus relief legislation after reconvening in Washington on May 4.

The recreation bill is also a win for Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSunday shows - Trump's reemergence, COVID-19 vaccines and variants dominate Portman on Trump's dominance of GOP: Republican Party's policies are 'even more popular' Sunday shows preview: 2024 hopefuls gather at CPAC; House passes coronavirus relief; vaccine effort continues MORE (R-Ohio), whose legislation to address the nearly $12 billion deferred maintenance backlog at the National Park Service will be included in the Great American Outdoors Act, according to a Senate aide.

Portman has praised the bill as “landmark legislation that carries on Teddy Roosevelt’s legacy of protecting our public lands for future generations."

Sens. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSunday shows - Trump's reemergence, COVID-19 vaccines and variants dominate Warner: White House should 'keep open additional sanctions' against Saudi crown prince Sunday shows preview: 2024 hopefuls gather at CPAC; House passes coronavirus relief; vaccine effort continues MORE (D-Va.), Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderCongress addressed surprise medical bills, but the issue is not resolved Trump renominates Judy Shelton in last-ditch bid to reshape Fed Senate swears-in six new lawmakers as 117th Congress convenes MORE (R-Tenn.) and Angus KingAngus KingBiden CIA pick pledges to confront China if confirmed, speak 'truth to power' Top cops deflect blame over Capitol attack Koch-backed group launches ads urging lawmakers to reject COVID-19 relief bill MORE (I-Maine) are co-sponsors of the bill to address the parks maintenance backlog.

Gardner on Thursday also pointed to progress on legislation to extend the lending window of the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a core component of the $2.2 trillion CARES Act that passed in late March.

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“We’re very close to a number of things that are needed,” he said when asked about his decision not to stand in the way of the Senate going on a weeklong recess despite little progress toward new coronavirus legislation.

“So we’re close. PPP and some other things that will help Colorado. We’ve always got more work to do. I feel good about what we can hopefully accomplish here,” he added.

Gardner’s Democratic opponent, former Colorado Gov. John HickenlooperJohn HickenlooperDemocrats hesitant to raise taxes amid pandemic The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump's second impeachment trial begins Sanders says Biden sees progressives as 'strong part of his coalition' MORE, however, hit him for not getting more from the GOP leader.

“Cory Gardner made a big stink about keeping the Senate in Washington, but less than a day later, he’s given up and seems happy to do whatever Mitch McConnell says,” Hickenlooper said. “Coloradans need help now."