The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives on Monday unanimously passed the Outdoor REC Act, legislation that would require the Departments of Commerce and Labor to provide statistics on how outdoor recreation contributes to the nation’s economy. The full Senate must now pass the bill and send it to President Obama for his signature to become law.
“The overwhelming, bipartisan support in the House shows that Congress understands what we in the outdoor industry have known all along, that the $646 billion outdoor recreation economy—and the 6.1 million jobs it supports—is a major economic driver in communities across the United States and should be counted just like any other major industry,” said OIA Executive Director Amy Roberts. “We are grateful to Representatives Beyer, Reichert, McMorris Rodgers and Welch; to Chairman Upton; and the more than two-dozen co-sponsors for supporting the outdoor industry and the recreation economy.”
The House bill, H.R. 4665, was introduced by Representative Don Beyer (D-VA) and Representative Dave Reichert (R-WA). The bill also had a large bipartisan list of co-sponsors, including Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), the highest ranking woman in Congress, and Vermont’s At-Large Representative Peter Welch (D-VT). In addition to the bill’s co-sponsors, Representative Fred Upton (R-MI), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, reportedly was instrumental in bringing the bill to the House floor and guiding it to passage.
The introduction of the Outdoor REC Act and its companion bill in the Senate (S.2219), sponsored by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), was followed by the announcement last April by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell that her department would fund a two-year pilot program of the BEA recreation economy study. The pilot program and future recreation economy studies will look at “employment, sales, and contributions to travel and tourism, and other contributing components” of the outdoor recreation economy in the United States.