Congress Reauthorizes C&O Canal Commission
WASHINGTON – Both houses of Congress have passed legislation (S.476) to reinstate the C&O Canal National Historical Park Commission. The bill will now go to the President’s desk to be signed in to law.
The commission is comprised of 19 members appointed by the Secretary of Interior to five-year terms:
- eight from recommendations submitted by Montgomery, Frederick, Washington, and Allegany counties in Maryland
- eight from recommendations submitted by the Governor of Maryland, the Governor of West Virginia, the Governor of Virginia, and the Mayor of the District of Columbia
- three at the Secretary of Interior’s discretion
Commissioners serve without compensation, although the commission can incur nominal operating expenses from the existing park service budget. Commission recommendations are non-binding.
The Senate passed the reauthorization by unanimous consent July 9. The House passed the bill by a vote of 419-0 September 17. The President is expected to sign the bill.
Previous legislative authority for the commission expired on January 8, 2011. The new legislation will reauthorize the commission for 10 years.
The commission was created by a section of the same 1971 law that established the Park itself. Originally, the commission was authorized for 10 years. Recognizing the commission's value, however, Congress subsequently passed amendments authorizing three additional 10-year periods. Legislation granting a further 10-year extension was introduced during the111th Congress, but was not acted upon in time to prevent the commission's demise.
The position of the C&O Canal Association has been that the commission plays a very positive role in expressing the views of citizens and localities neighboring the park. The association has therefore supported reauthorization of the commission.