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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 McConnellPortman: Republicans are 'absolutely' committed to bipartisan infrastructure bill Graham calls voting rights bill 'biggest power grab' in history The wild card that might save Democrats in the midterms 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 DainesGOP senator introduces constitutional amendment to ban flag burning Company officially nixes Keystone XL pipeline OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Biden ends infrastructure talks with key Republican | Colonial Pipeline CEO grilled over ransomware attack | Texas gov signs bills to improve power grid after winter storm 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 PortmanPortman: Republicans are 'absolutely' committed to bipartisan infrastructure bill Sunday shows - Voting rights, infrastructure in the spotlight Manchin compromise proposal a 'federal takeover of the election system,' GOP senator says 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 WarnerCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting On The Money: Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle | White House rules out gas tax hike Democrats introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for government discrimination MORE (D-Va.), Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderAuthorities link ex-Tennessee governor to killing of Jimmy Hoffa associate The Republicans' deep dive into nativism Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain MORE (R-Tenn.) and Angus KingAngus KingCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Biden struggles to detail post-withdrawal Afghanistan plans Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle 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 HickenlooperCentrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting Centrists gain leverage over progressives in Senate infrastructure battle The Hill's Morning Report - After high-stakes Biden-Putin summit, what now? 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."