U.S. Policy Update

The Senate and House were in session and conducting committee work during most of July before lawmakers leave for the month-long recess in August. 

The Great American Outdoors Act

The House passed the Great American Outdoors Act on July 22 with a 310-107 vote. GAOA is bipartisan and bicameral legislation that fully dedicates $900 million to the Land and Water Conservation Fund and addresses the nearly $20 billion in maintenance backlogs on our public lands and waters.

Join BHA in thanking your lawmakers for supporting the Great American Outdoors Act.


The House considered 11 of the 12 fiscal year 2021 appropriations bills prior to leaving town. The minibuses included funding allocations for Interior, Environmental Protection Agency and Related Agencies, Agriculture, Energy and Water Development and others. The Interior appropriations bill does not include the sage grouse rider that prohibits funds for fiscal year 2021 to be used to list the bird as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Removing the rider, a provision that has been included in past appropriations bills, is a major hurdle our community has accomplished. The removal of rider is essential more than ever because of the administration’s proposed changes to sage grouse conservation plans that were developed by a group of diverse stakeholders.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has yet to consider spending bills. Lawmakers have until the end of September to fund the government and prevent a shutdown, and we expect a continuing resolution - allocations continue at FY2020 funding levels - to fund the government until after the November election or into the next Congress.

Defense Bill

The Senate and House passed their respective versions of the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act, leading the way for future conference negotiations. A bad amendment offered by Rep. Bishop (R-UT) in the House bill was removed prior to floor consideration. This controversial amendment annexed much of the remaining portions of the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, located in Nevada and the largest refuge in the lower 48, giving the Air Force primary control. The Air Force for decades has continually chipped away at the refuge, currently controlling the Pintwater and Desert ranges. Wildlife management, including water catchment construction and maintenance, has all but ceased in these annexed areas due to conflicts with military training exercises. This also cancels the existing memorandum of understanding, or MOU, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and calls for a new MOU; but in case of any conflict, the Secretary of the Air Force is the final decision-making authority.