Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) released the following statement on the introduction today of a bill he is co-sponsoring, the National Park Access Act, which will reimburse Arizona and other states for donations used to reopen National Parks during the government shutdown, which lasted from October 1-16, 2013. U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) is the original sponsor of the legislation, and original co-sponsors are Senators Mark Udall (D-CO), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Bob Corker (R-TN).
“I am pleased to co-sponsor legislation introduced by my colleague, Senator Jeff Flake, which would reimburse states for donations used to reopen our National Parks during the government shutdown in October.
“Last year’s government shutdown was a reckless folly. Its only accomplishment was to inflict economic damage on hardworking Arizonans. Overall, our state lost $27 million in tourism dollars as more than 160,000 visitors were turned away from visiting the Grand Canyon and other Arizona national parks, according to a recent report by the U.S. National Park Service. Food banks actually had to rush supplies to 2,200 employees inside Grand Canyon National Park who were furloughed or laid off due to the shutdown.
“Arizonans responded by raising $465,000 in donations to reopen Grand Canyon National Park for five days of the 16-day government shutdown. This ensured the Grand Canyon stayed open during the Columbus Day holiday, one of the busiest weekends for small businesses that serve Park tourists.
“Even though Congress back-paid the National Park Service once the shutdown was resolved, the federal government kept a total of $2 million in donations it received during the shutdown to reopen National Park units in Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Tennessee, South Dakota and New York. The legislation we have introduced ensures that the federal government returns the $2 million windfall it collected in October, repaying the goodwill of the Americans who stepped up while dysfunction in Washington shut the government down.”