Alexander Cosponsors Budget Amendment to Reimburse States for Reopening National Parks During 2013 Federal Government Shutdown

Says Congress should “ensure Tennessee taxpayers won’t have to pay the price” for keeping Smoky Mountains open

Posted on March 26, 2015

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“The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of America’s greatest treasures, and it was forced to be shut down during its prime tourist season when the park welcomes the most visitors and the surrounding businesses make most of their money.” – Lamar Alexander

WASHINGTON, March 26, 2015 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today cosponsored an amendment to the budget introduced by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) that would allow legislation to reimburse states that paid to keep the national parks within their state open during the federal government shutdown in October 2013, including the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.

“The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of America’s greatest treasures, and it was forced to be shut down during its prime tourist season when the park welcomes the most visitors and the surrounding businesses make most of their money,” Alexander said. “Congress should help relieve the pain caused in these areas and their surrounding communities and ensure Tennessee taxpayers won’t have to pay the price for keeping them open.”

Earlier this year, Alexander cosponsored The National Park Access Act to reimburse the six states (Arizona, Colorado, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee and Utah) that paid the National Park Service approximately $2 million of state and local money to keep the national parks in their states open during the federal government shutdown. Blount and Sevier Counties and the state of Tennessee spent over $60,000 to reopen the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

During the government shutdown, Alexander introduced legislation, 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 ensure Tennessee and other states would be reimbursed for opening their national parks during the shutdown. The Continuing Appropriations Act of 2014, which ended the shutdown, included $2 million in retroactive funding for the National Park Service to cover the payments made by the states.

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