House T&I Committee set to introduce Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013
September 11, 2013
Later today, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and its Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment will introduce the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 (WRRDA).
Committee officials said that through this type of water resources legislation, Congress authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to carry out its missions to develop, maintain, and support the Nation’s vital port and waterways infrastructure needs, and support effective and targeted flood protection and environmental restoration needs.
And while Congress has passed this legislation every two years to provide clear direction to the Administration and the Corps, a bill has not been signed into law since 2007.
“The Water Resources Reform and Development Act will be one of the most policy and reform focused measures of its kind in the last two decades,” read a House T&I Committee statement.
“In a video message, House T&I Chairman Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) said that U.S. ports and waterways are highly essential, especially when considering that 99 percent of the goods the United States trades, sell, and import around the world go through U.S. ports, representing $1.4 trillion worth of goods every year.
But he pointed out that comes with a caveat, considering that the United States’ critical infrastructure is aging and the process for updating it is slow, costly, and filled with red tape.
“Something needs to be done, but Congress has not passed a water bill in six years, and as a result our country is losing its competitive advantage,” he said. “Meanwhile, the bureaucracy rides on as government-mandated studies have been going on for more than 15 years with no limit on spending, wasting billions of taxpayers’ dollars and valuable time. We are literally studying our infrastructure to death, but we can do something about it with strong reforms and shortening the review time to three years. That is exactly what this bill does. It also puts a cap on how much we can spend on these studies.”
In May, the U.S. Senate approved S. 601, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2013 by an 83-14 margin.
This legislation provides critical flood protection for communities across the country, maintains the flow of commerce, and will create up to 500,000 new jobs, according to the Senate’s Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee.
The Senate version contains various provisions that stand to have a direct impact on shippers, including:
-project authorization for 18 projects that address all major mission areas of the Corps of Engineers, including flood risk management, navigation, hurricane and storm damage risk reduction, and environmental restoration, with an annual benefit topping $690.3 million;
-project delivery reforms that establish a new program to promote levee safety and improve inland waterways project delivery, among other efforts; and
-address the surplus of the Harbor Maintenance Trust (HMT) Fund by ensuring all revenues will be spent for port maintenance and not impact other important Corps of Engineers projects
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