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 McConnellPush to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Schumer labels McConnell's scheduled coronavirus stimulus vote as 'a stunt' Pelosi gives White House 48-hour deadline for coronavirus stimulus deal 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 Scott GardnerPush to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Democratic super PAC pulls remaining ads from Colorado Senate race Exclusive: Poll shows Affordable Care Act challenge a liability for McConnell at home MORE (Colo.) and Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesClimate change — Trump's golden opportunity Steve Bullock raises .8 million in third quarter for Montana Senate bid Overnight Defense: National Guard says no federal requests for election security help | Dems accuse VA head of misusing resources | Army official links COVID-19 to troop suicides 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.


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 PortmanCandymakers meet virtually with lawmakers for annual fly-in, discuss Halloween safety Democrats look past Election Day in Barrett fight  Another fiscal year, another CR; it's time for this nonsense to end 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 WarnerTrump slight against Gold Star families adds to military woes Hillicon Valley: Twitter tightens rules before election | Intelligence chief briefed lawmakers on foreign influence threats | Democrats launch inquiry into Pentagon's moves on a national 5G network Senate Democrat raises concerns around Universal Health Services breach MORE (D-Va.), Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderBaldwin calls for Senate hearing on CDC response to meatpacking plant coronavirus outbreak The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Big week: Barrett hearings, Trump returns to blitz campaign trail Trump claims he is 'immune' from coronavirus, defends federal response MORE (R-Tenn.) and Angus KingAngus KingPush to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Hopes for DC, Puerto Rico statehood rise Government watchdog recommends creation of White House cyber director position 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.


“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 HickenlooperPush to expand Supreme Court faces Democratic buzzsaw Democratic super PAC pulls remaining ads from Colorado Senate race Democrats see cash floodgates open ahead of Election Day 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."