Senate Passes Legislation to Repay Tennessee for Reopening Smokies During 2013 Federal Government Shutdown

Posted on April 20, 2016

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“Shutting down the government, which I opposed, was a mistake, and Tennessee should not have to pay for Washington’s failure.”

WASHINGTON, April 20, 2016 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said today that Senate passage of a broad, bipartisan energy bill is “promising news” for Tennessee and five other states that would share an approximate $2 million reimbursement for money they spent to reopen national parks in their states during the 2013 federal government shutdown.

Tennessee, along with Blount and Sevier counties, paid the National Park Service more than $60,000 to reopen the Great Smoky Mountains National Park while the federal government was shut down more than two years ago.

“Shutting down the government, which I opposed, was a mistake, and Tennessee should not have to pay for Washington’s failure. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of America’s greatest treasures. The 2013 government shutdown forced the park to close during peak tourist season – when it receives the most visitors and the small businesses in Blount and Sevier counties make most of their hard-earned money. If this legislation is passed by the House and becomes law it will reimburse Tennesseans for keeping the Smokies open,” Alexander said.

An amendment to the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 included language supported by Alexander to reimburse Tennessee, Arizona, Colorado, New York, South Dakota and Utah for spending state and local funds to keep some national parks open.

During the federal government shutdown in 2013, Alexander introduced The Protecting States, Opening National Parks Act, to reimburse states within 90 days for all state funds used to reopen national parks while the federal government was shut down. He also worked with the National Park Service, Gov. Haslam, Blount and Sevier counties, and other members of the Tennessee delegation to reopen the national parks and has been working to get Tennessee and other states reimbursed for opening their national parks during the shutdown. In 2014 and 2015, Alexander cosponsored The National Park Access Act to reimburse the six states.

The Senate passed the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 today by a vote of 85 to 12.

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