House Easily Passes Waterways Bill to Applause from ASA

first_imgWith a vote of 417 to 3 on Wednesday evening, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA). The WRRDA bill includes provisions to streamline environmental reviews; establish hard deadlines and cost caps on project studies; allow non-federal interests to contribute funds to expedite project components; annually increase the amount of funding that is provided from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) for port maintenance and dredging; and free up money and increase the capacity of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF)  and requiring the Corps to study and report on bonding, user fees, and other potential funding sources. ASA supports the bill, and President Danny Murphy congratulated House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee leadership following its passage.“ASA welcomes [the] passage of the WRRDA bill and commends Chairman Shuster and Ranking member Rahall, as well as Subcommittee Chairman Gibbs and Ranking Member Bishop, for their persistence and support in the process of addressing our waterways infrastructure. As tonight’s vote illustrates, this bill enjoys broad bipartisan support in the House, as it does in the Senate and within the administration. With that in mind, we call on the House and the Senate to convene the conference committee as soon as possible so that a final bill can be passed and sent to President Obama before the end of this year. Soybeans are the nation’s leading farm export, and each bushel we export depends on our waterways infrastructure, whether that’s in the form of a river channel, a lock and dam or a port,” added Murphy. “Unfortunately, in recent years, each of those elements has begun to suffer due to lack of upkeep and investment, and this bill takes a great step to reversing that trend.”The House bill now heads to conference with the Senate’s Water Resources Development Act (S. 601) to iron out areas in which the two bills differ. S. 601 includes similar provisions supported by ASA to annually increase the amount of funding that is provided from the HMTF for port maintenance and dredging; to streamline the process for Corps of Engineers projects and reduce project completion times; and to free up money and increase the capacity of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF). Additionally, the Senate version includes an amendment supported by ASA that would exempt small farms that store oil in aboveground tanks from federal oil spill regulations. The amendment would set storage tank thresholds below which agricultural operations would be excluded from U.S. EPA’s Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Rule (SPCC).We thank ASA members for contacting their representatives over the last day and a half to urge a yes vote on the bill. Of the three “no” votes cast on the bill, one came from House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), and the others came from Republicans Jim Sensenbrenner, of Wisconsin, and Walter Jones, of North Carolina.ASA will keep members updated on the bill’s progress in conference.last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *