Congress approves upgrading Jimmy Carter sites in Plains to national park

The measure is now headed to President Donald Trump for final approval

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House and Senate have signed off on a measure that would upgrade the federal designation of various sites in Plains, Ga., tied to former President Jimmy Carter. Now, it’s up to President Donald Trump to decide whether he will sign the bill into law.

That would allow the farm where Carter grew up, the train depot that once headquartered his presidential campaign, his old high school and the city center to be upgraded from “historic sites” to a “national historic park.”

ExploreIt's official: Trump signs bill to create Jimmy Carter National Historical Park in Plains

The Jimmy Carter National Historical Park would also one day include the home where the 96-year-old and his wife, Rosalynn, reside today. After they die, the park would expand to include their burial site.

U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, the bill’s sponsor, said the changes are a needed tribute to the country’s longest-living ex-president.

“President Carter has spent his life making Plains, Ga., and America a better place for all and it is fitting that we honor him with this change,” Bishop said in a statement. “The Jimmy Carter National Historical Park will increase tourism in Plains for many years to come, as President and Mrs. Carter desire.”

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Bishop also said the reclassification would provide for additional protections at the various landmarks. The other 13 members of Georgia’s House delegation co-sponsored the measure.

U.S. Sen. David Perdue took the lead in his chamber, and U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler joined him in a statement applauding the bill’s passage. And Carter thanked lawmakers for backing the change.

“No matter where life has taken me, from the Governor’s Mansion to the White House, Plains has always been my home,” he said. “Rosalynn joins me in thanking Sen. Perdue, Congressman Bishop and the Georgia delegation for helping preserve my family’s legacy.”

ExploreGuide to visiting the Jimmy Carter historic sites in Plains

The Jimmy Carter National Historic Site and Preservation District was established in 1987 to preserve artifacts of Carter’s presidency, as well as highlight the influence the rural town in southwest Georgia had on his life.

Trump has a few days left in his presidency to decide whether he will approve the reclassification or veto it. The White House did not immediately respond to a question about which action he might take.

The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta underwent a similar name change in 2018 with Trump’s approval. The Jimmy Carter sites in Plains would become Georgia’s third national historical park. Ocmulgee Mounds in Macon is the other.

ExploreProposal introduced to reclassify historic Jimmy Carter sites in Plains