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Committee Leaders Release Draft Bipartisan Water Resources Development Act

Washington, DC, May 20, 2016 | Justin Harclerode (202) 225-9446 | comments
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The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee today released a bipartisan draft of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016, legislation to address the needs of America’s harbors, locks, dams, flood protection, and other water resources infrastructure and help strengthen the Nation’s economic competitiveness.

Committee leaders plan to formally introduce the bill early next week, and mark up the legislation on Wednesday, May 25, 2016, at 10:00 a.m.

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The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee today released a bipartisan draft of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016, legislation to address the needs of America’s harbors, locks, dams, flood protection, and other water resources infrastructure and help strengthen the Nation’s economic competitiveness.

Committee leaders plan to formally introduce the bill early next week, and mark up the legislation on Wednesday, May 25, 2016, at 10:00 a.m.

WRDA 2016 is Congress’ return to the regular, biannual process of authorizing projects and activities related to the key missions of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, including developing and maintaining the Nation’s waterway infrastructure and supporting effective and targeted flood protection and environmental restoration needs. 

The legislation, which contains no earmarks, maintains the strong bipartisan reforms included in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014, and adheres to the new transparent process established in that law for congressional review of proposed Corps water resources development activities.

“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,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA).  “This bill contains no earmarks, follows the process reforms established in the water resources bill two years ago, and maintains congressional oversight of Corps of Engineers’ work.  I look forward to moving ahead next week and working with the Senate to send a bill to the President later this year.”

“The legislation will strengthen our coastal communities and our environment, create and sustain jobs, and enhance navigation to enable our ports to remain competitive in the world economy,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR).  “In addition, this bill includes a critical provision to ensure that, in the future, funds collected in the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund will be used for their intended purpose – harbor maintenance.  I am pleased this legislation will continue to ensure that the most critical needs will be met in our ports and harbors — no matter what size.  I applaud Chairmen Shuster and Gibbs, and Ranking Member Napolitano for their hard work to get Congress back on track with regular WRDA authorizations, and I look forward to moving this measure forward and getting it signed into law.”

“After the landmark reforms of WRDA 2014, Chairman Shuster and I have been focused on enacting WRDA bills on a two-year cycle,” said Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-OH).  “This gives the House the appropriate and necessary oversight of important water infrastructure projects, a critical function of the government.  A strong and vibrant economy relies on an efficient and modern maritime transportation system to move commerce through our inland waterways and ports.  I look forward to working with Chairman Shuster and all of my colleagues to pass a bipartisan WRDA bill this year.”

“This legislation includes critical drought relief provisions that will improve coordination between the Army Corps of Engineers and state and local agencies to implement water supply measures at Army Corps dams,” said Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Grace Napolitano (D-CA).  “I am also proud that the bill authorizes the Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration project, which will provide environmental, flood protection, and recreational benefits for all Los Angeles County residents.”

Following the review process established in the 2014 law, the draft text of WRDA 2016 authorizes 28 Army Corps of Engineers Chief’s Reports submitted to Congress since the enactment of the previous measure.  Chief’s Reports are the final recommendation to Congress by the Corps’ Chief of Engineers for water resources infrastructure priorities.  These infrastructure improvements have been proposed at the local level, in cooperation and consultation with the Corps, and provide national economic and environmental benefits.  All Chief’s Reports included in WRDA 2016 were the subject of Committee hearings this year.

The draft legislation authorizes approximately $5 billion in federal funding for Corps activities, offset by $5 billion in deauthorizations of previously authorized projects.  The measure also sunsets new authorizations to prevent future project backlogs.

Returning to the two-year cycle of considering WRDA legislation ensures proper Congressional oversight of the Corps and enables Congress to address the Nation’s water resources development needs in a timely manner.  Maintaining regular order saves money in the long term by preventing the increases in project costs that occur when necessary authorizations are stalled or delayed.

Click here for the draft text of the Water Resources Development Act of 2016.

Click here for a summary of the Water Resources Development Act of 2016.

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