Miller-Meeks & Gallego Lead Bipartisan Effort to Honor American Heroes Ahead of Independence Day
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, July 1st, 2021, Reps. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (IA-02) and Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), both veterans,led a bipartisan group of131 members in introducing H.R. 4300, the Veterans in Parks (VIP) Act. This legislation would give veterans and Gold Star families free lifetime access to national parks and public federal lands and give active-duty military free annual passes.
“As a 24-year Army veteran, I understand the sacrifices made by our military and their loved ones,” said Miller-Meeks. “We owe so much to our amazing servicemembers, veterans, and their families; my Veterans In Parks Act is the least we can do. Our legislation would give servicemembers, veterans, and our Gold Star families free passes to all of our beautiful national parks and federal lands for life. I am proud to work with such a great bipartisan group of members on this commonsense issue to support those who sacrifice so much for our freedoms.”
“As a veteran, I know firsthand the importance of national parks as a place of connection and healing when dealing with the visible and invisible wounds of war,” said Gallego. “The VIP Act is an important step in ensuring that veterans, service members, and Gold Star families have access to the public lands they and their loved ones fought to protect. I am proud to co-lead this bill and I will continue to fight for veteran accessibility and support on our nation’s public lands.”
“We can never fully repay our veterans for their service and sacrifice, but we want to show our gratitude by giving them lifetime access to America's most beautiful natural landscapes,” said Rep. Bruce Westerman (AR-04), Republican Leader of the House Natural Resources Committee. “The VIP Act is also a testament to bipartisanship in action and proof that party lines don't need to interfere with our ability to honor American heroes who sacrificed so much to keep us free. I thank Congresswoman Miller-Meeks for her leadership on this bill and look forward to working with Chairman Grijalva to move it quickly through our committee.”
“Veterans and active-duty service members find solace, refuge, and connection in our national parks and public lands,” said Rep. Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. “These treasured landscapes, monuments, and memorials are healing spaces and iconic symbols that unite our nation and represent the best of what it means to be American. Providing the military community with free access is appropriate and recognizing how public lands help our veterans heal is a good reminder that our parks and public lands deserve attention, investment, and care. I look forward to working with my colleagues to increase public lands access and interest in conserving our shared heritage for future generations.”
“As we celebrate our country’s freedom this weekend, it is important to remember the immense sacrifices that our veterans, active-duty servicemembers, and military families make every single day for the betterment of our nation,” said Rep. Kevin McCarthy (CA-23), House Republican Leader. “I applaud Rep. Miller-Meeks for her efforts to ensure that the law reflects our gratitude for our heroes and their families.”
To read the full text of the legislation, click HERE.
The America the Beautiful Pass provides access to more than 2,000 federal recreation areas, including national parks, national forests, and wildlife refuges. This includes some of the country's most iconic natural treasures, ranging from Acadia National Park to the Redwood National Forest.
The VIP Act would allow all veterans, active duty servicemembers, and Gold Star Families to visit all national parks and public lands free of charge. In 2020, the America the Beautiful annual pass became free for veterans and Gold Star Families; however, this change for veterans has never been put into law and could be undone in future years.
The VIP Act protects these for veterans passes by codifying them and making them lifetime passes instead of annual passes. Finally, the VIP Act also creates annual passes for current servicemembers, which can be converted into lifetime passes once they leave the military.
Original Cosponsors (133): Amodei, Armstrong, Balderson, Barr, Bentz, Bergman, Bost, Brooks, Brown, Brownley, Buchanan, Buck, Calvert, Carbajal, Carl, Carter (GA), Cawthorn, Chabot, Cheney, Clyde, Cole, Crawford, Crow, Curtis, Rodney Davis, DeGette, Diaz-Balart, Duncan, Dunn, Emmer, Fitzpatrick, Fleischmann, Fortenberry, Foxx, Fulcher, Gallego, Garbarino, Garcia (IL), Garcia (CA), Gibbs, Gimenez, Gohmert, Gonzales, Gonzalez-Colon, Granger, Graves (LA), Graves (MO), Grijalva, Hagedorn, Harris, Hartzler, Herrell, Herrera Beutler, Hice, Hill, Hinson, Hollingsworth, Hudson, Huizenga, Issa, Johnson (LA), Johnson (OH), Joyce (OH), Kelly (PA), Kelly (MS), Kim (CA), Kinzinger, LaHood, LaMalfa, Lamb, Leger Fernandez, Lesko, Letlow, Levin (CA), Lieu, Long, Lucas, Luetkemeyer, Luria, Mann, Mast, McCarthy, McClintock, McKinley, Meijer, Miller (WV), Moore (AL), Moore (UT), Murphy (NC), Napolitano, Newhouse, Norman, Obernolte, Owens, Palazzo, Pence, Radewagen, Rice (SC), Rodgers, Rogers (KY), Rouzer, Sablan, Salazar, Scalise, Schrader, Schweikert, Sessions, Sherrill, Simpson, Smith (MO), Soto, Spartz, Stauber, Steel, Steube, Takano, Thompson (PA), Tiffany, Timmons, Tlaib, Van Drew, Velázquez, Wagner, Walorski, Waltz, Weber, Webster, Wenstrup, Westerman, Williams, Wittman, Womack, Young.
Supporting Organizations: Paralyzed Veterans of America, Vista Outdoor, National Marine Manufacturers Association, National Parks Hospitality Association, the National Association of Counties, Outdoor Industry Association, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Evangelical Environmental Network, Wildlife Mississippi, Mississippi River Trust, American Sportfishing Association, American Cultural Resources Association, VoteVets, The Mission Continues, American Battlefield Trust, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC), Delaware North, Trout Unlimited, National RV Dealers Association (RVDA), American Trails, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Boone and Crockett Club, Rugged Range, Bell Helmets, Blackburn, Blackhawk, Bushnell, CamelBak, Camp Chef, CCI, Eagle Industries, Federal Ammunition, Giro, HEVI-Shot, Primos, Remington, BPC Action, American Hiking Society, ConservAmerica, Southeast Tourism Society, The Corps Network, Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, REI Co-op, Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, Audubon, U.S. Travel Association, American Conservation Coalition, America Outdoors, Student Conservation Association, Association of Marina Industries, Archery Trade Association, International Inbound Travel Association, Wildlife Management Institute.