Beyond the usual mix of tourists, Old Faithful is drawing in some of the country’s top officials this week. Vice President Mike Pence, Second Lady Karen Pence and Interior Secretary David …
Beyond the usual mix of tourists, Old Faithful is drawing in some of the country’s top officials this week. Vice President Mike Pence, Second Lady Karen Pence and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt plan to visit the famed geyser during a Thursday trip to Yellowstone National Park.
Around midday at the Old Faithful Visitors Center, Pence will speak to National Park Service employees about “the administration’s support to rebuilding National Park infrastructure.”
Addressing the “maintenance backlog” of deferred Park Service projects has been a priority for Trump administration. The agency estimates that more than $11 billion worth of repairs and maintenance for roads, buildings, utility systems and other structures and facilites have been put on hold because of fiscal constraints.
In his proposed budget for 2020, President Donald Trump recommended establishing a Public Lands Infrastructure Fund. The fund would take up to $1.3 billion of revenue each year from energy production and set it aside for deferred maintenance projects.
Pence’s predecessor, former Vice President Joe Biden, visited Yellowstone in 2010 and similarly spoke about the need to invest in the park’s infrastructure. President Barack Obama also paid a visit to the world’s first national park in 2009, taking a tour of Old Faithful during a family vacation.
During his trip out West, Vice President Pence also visited Billings on Wednesday for what U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., called “a firsthand look at Montana’s devastating meth crisis.”
Pence received a briefing from the Eastern Montana High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force and the Yellowstone Substance Abuse Coalition.
“Mexican meth is pouring into our state and tearing our families and communities apart,” Daines said in a statement, adding, “Together with the Trump Administration and folks all over Montana, we must win this fight for our great state.”
The Pences will fly from Billings to West Yellowstone, Montana, on Thursday morning for the trip to Old Faithful, then fly back to Washington, D.C., from West Yellowstone later on Thursday.
Montana has been a popular destination for the White House; Pence visited Billings in July 2018, while President Trump held four rallies in Montana last year, largely in an effort to boost Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Rosendale, who lost to Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.
— By CJ Baker