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VIP Act passes with bipartisan support in Natural Resources Committee

Amata with Rep. Dr. Miller Meeks
‘Veterans in Parks’ act honors vets with free lifetime Nat’l Park passes
Source: Congresswoman Uifaatali Amata's Office

Washington, D.C. — Congresswoman Uifa’atali Amata voted Wednesday for the Veterans in Parks (VIP) Act, H.R. 4300, which was passed by the full Committee on Natural Resources with bipartisan support. Amata cosponsored the legislation to honor Veterans with free lifetime access to all U.S. National Parks, and other National Forests and public lands.

The Veterans in Parks (VIP) Act specifically honors the nation’s servicemembers, veterans, and Gold Star families as VIPs in over 2,000 federally protected places. Amata supported the bill from the start as an original cosponsor upon introduction by Representatives Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA) and Ruben Gallego (D-AZ). 

Currently, the public can purchase annual “America the Beautiful” passes that allow entry to all parks for one year. The VIP Act works by providing these annual America the Beautiful Passes for free to current military service members, and free lifetime America the Beautiful Passes to veterans and members of Gold Star Families. 

 “This bill is a special statement of support for our Veterans and military families, and another way to say thank you,” said Congresswoman Amata. “The VIP Act honors those serving, those who served, and Gold Star families who lost a loved one in service to the United States, by ensuring you are a VIP in the nation’s federally protected historic and beautiful places.”

The America the Beautiful pass is an access ticket to over 2,000 places spanning National Parks, National Forests and Wildlife Refuges, which fall under different federal agencies and departments. The National Parks system has 423 sites including 63 Parks, along with trails, historical sites, monuments and memorials. These sites are preserved for national value based on scenery, special geographic features, history, or plant and wildlife conservation. Some Parks, such as the National Park of American Samoa, are generally free to access, but many locations have fees, or passes applied per car or for parking. The America the Beautiful pass covers those entry expenses. 

In 2020, the administration made America the Beautiful yearly access free for Veterans and Gold Star families, but the VIP Act takes it a step further in three ways by extending it to lifetime passes, making the change permanent, and codifying it in law.