July 4 Celebration Costs National Park Service As Maintenance Is Deferred

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) at a May press conference promoting the Restore Our Parks Act stands in front of a photo of a house awaiting demolition in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) at a May press conference promoting the Restore Our Parks Act. He stands in front of a photo (L) of a house awaiting demolition in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. [Office of Sen. Rob Portman]
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The National Park Service is diverting $2.5 million from park fees to cover costs for President Trump’s expanded Independence Day celebration on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., according to the Washington Post.

Meanwhile, a bill to help fund $12 billion of delayed park maintenance sits in a Senate committee.

The Restore Our Parks Act, sponsored by Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman and a bipartisan coalition of 39 senators, has been stalled in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee since it was introduced in February. The bill would allocate $6.5 billion for backlogged park maintenance needs, including at Cuyahoga Valley National Park, where, according to Portman, a bridge is falling apart and there’s leakage at the visitor center.

“Rob believes we can both celebrate Independence Day on the National Mall and address the $12 billion maintenance backlog at our national parks," Emily Benavides, a spokesperson for Sen. Portman told ideastream via email when asked to comment on National Park Service money being diverted to pay for President Trump’s “Salute to America.”

The National Park Service estimates the country's parks need $6.15 billion to pay for maintainance on paved roads and structures and another $5.77 billion for facilities including monuments, trails, and campgrounds.

According to the Washington Post, some VIP tickets to the Fourth of July events have been given to major Republican donors. Portman’s spokesperson said the senator has not received any tickets and will be spending the holiday in Ohio.

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