May 20, 2014
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a $12.3 billion water infrastructure reauthorization bill on Tuesday, The Hill reports.
The conference version of the bill, dubbed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) of 2014, would authorize funding for waterway projects, including construction and maintenance. If the Senate passes the bill, it will be the first water infrastructure bill Congress has authorized since 2007.
The initial version of the bill passed in October 2013.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) praised the bill for a lack of earmarks.
“This bill will help create jobs, help strengthen our economy and it’s the first time this bill has ever been produced where there are no earmarks in this bill,” Boehner said. “It’s a significant policy achievement.”
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) has worked to promote the bill since its introduction in September 2013.
Shuster noted that the bill cuts authorization for projects such as $18 billion worth of projects that the Army Corps of Engineers deems outdated.
“We should be proud that this is the most fiscally responsible WRRDA in history,” Shuster said.
Rep. John K. Delaney (D-MD) also applauded the “fiscally-responsible” nature of the bill.
““This water resources infrastructure bill makes our country more competitive, reforms and streamlines the project delivery process, and improves our water transportation networks,” Delaney said in a prepared statement. “It’s extremely encouraging that a large bipartisan consensus was reached on this important bill, which includes input from both sides of the aisle and is fiscally-responsible.”
However, Delaney noted that work doesn’t end with the bill’s passage.
While today’s vote is another step towards maintaining current levels of investment, we have more work to do. Building a truly world-class and twenty-first century infrastructure grid should be our number one economic priority,” he added.
National Stone, Sand and Gravel Association (NSSGA) President and CEO Mike Johnson noted that a need for infrastructure investment has again produced a bipartisan bill. The Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee approved a bipartisan highway bill last week.
“Senate Environment & Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) and all the conferees on the WRRDA legislation should be proud of this important achievement,” Johnson said in a prepared statement. “The overwhelmingly bipartisan margins by which this legislation was passed in each chamber prove once again that nothing can bring the two parties together quite like the need to invest in and strengthen America’s infrastructure.”
NSSGA Chairman Paul I. Detwiler III noted the importance of WRRDA in improving all infrastructure.
“It is heartening to see Congress step up to the plate when it comes to finding solutions to the crisis facing the country’s water and surface transportation network,” Detwiler said in a prepared statement. “Monumental steps, including increased investment, must be taken immediately to repair and revive our aging infrastructure if we intend to remain competitive and prosperous in a global marketplace. The WRRDA bill is an important initial step toward that goal.”
For more information about WRRDA, visit transportation.house.gov/wrrda.
To view a copy of the conference report, click here.