Friday, May 27, 2016

The Hill: Panel sends $5B waterways measure to full House

A House panel on Wednesday backed a $5 billion waterways bill to boost the nation’s ports, harbors, dams and other water resources.

The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016, however, does not contain the same clean drinking water investments as a Senate version due to jurisdictional differences.
The bill was approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee by voice vote after eight amendments were unanimously adopted.
It authorizes 28 new Army Corps of Engineers projects that are offset by deauthorizing $5 billion worth of previously approved projects that are no longer viable.
It also permanently ensures that funds collected in the Harbor Maintenance Fund will be used for their intended purpose. A portion of the fund’s revenue is often diverted to offset other congressional spending. 
Lawmakers said they are encouraged that Congress is returning to a two-year cycle of considering WRDA legislation, which helps maintain congressional oversight and enables lawmakers to more readily respond to the country’s water resources needs.

“This bill is about strengthening our nation’s infrastructure so we can remain competitive.  It’s about economic growth.  It’s about jobs,” said Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.)  “Water resources infrastructure is fundamental to a sound economy, and WRDA 2016 gets Congress back to basics and the business of regularly addressing the needs of our ports, waterways, lock and dam systems, flood protection, and other infrastructure.”

The House will eventually have to reconcile its $5 billion legislation with the Senate’s $9.4 billion waterways bill, which contains $220 million in direct emergency assistance to address the drinking water crisis in Flint, Mich., and authorizes $4.9 billion for drinking water and clean water infrastructure over five years.

The House Transportation Committee doesn’t have the same jurisdiction as the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which approved its legislation last month.

The previous WRDA bill cleared by Congress did not significantly address clean drinking water infrastructure.


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