House Passes WRRDA

NWC News Alert
20 May 2014

By an overwhelming vote of 412-4, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 Conference Report.  The measure now heads to the Senate, where easy passage is expected when it is taken up on Thursday, then on to the President for his signature.    

The press release issued by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee follows:


House Passes Historic Measure to Strengthen Water Resources Infrastructure & America’s Competitiveness

Washington, DC - The House of Representatives today overwhelmingly (412 to 4) approved bipartisan water resources reform legislation that cuts federal red tape and bureaucracy, streamlines the infrastructure project delivery process, fosters fiscal responsibility, and strengthens our water transportation networks to promote America’s competitiveness, prosperity, and economic growth.

The House passed the Conference Report to H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 (WRRDA), a bill originally introduced in the House by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), Committee Ranking Member Nick J. Rahall, II (D-WV), Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-OH), and Subcommittee Ranking Member Tim Bishop (D-NY).  The Conference Report represents the bipartisan, bicameral agreement between House and Senate conferees responsible for negotiating a final measure between the House- and Senate-passed versions of the bill.

Through WRRDA, 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.

“This legislation supports our water transportation network to keep our Nation competitive, improve the flow of commerce, and provide a foundation for job growth,” Shuster said.  “WRRDA is also the most policy and reform-focused measure of its kind in decades, and the most fiscally responsible water resources bill in history.  It cuts red tape, reforms the federal bureaucracy, accelerates project delivery, and more than fully offsets authorizations for needed infrastructure improvements by deauthorizing unnecessary, outdated projects.  This is legislation that’s good for the economy, good for jobs, and good for America.”

“This bipartisan jobs bill will revitalize our inland waterway system so that bulk commodities such as West Virginia coal can be transported more efficiently,” said Rahall.  “Critically, this bill expands the Buy America requirements placed on future Army Corp projects, ensuring that more of our Nation’s infrastructure is made in America by Americans.  This provision in particular further defines this legislation as being about jobs—jobs to construct flood control projects, jobs to expand our harbors, jobs to make improvements to our waterways—and American jobs in the production of the iron and steel that goes into these works.”

“WRRDA will ensure that America maintains and expands upon our competitive advantage, not just today but in the years to come,” said Gibbs.  “This WRRDA is unlike any previous bill passed by Congress.  The reforms we have made are unprecedented and will provide a layout for future WRRDA bills to come.  We wrote this bill without compromising our key principles: maintaining fiscal responsibility, streamlining studies and reviews of projects, removing all earmarks and maintaining Congress’ role in determining our Nation’s infrastructure projects.  At its core, WRRDA is a bipartisan bill and will ensure that American maintains its navigable waterways for the future.”

“Investment in our water and wastewater infrastructure is essential to the health of our communities, both economically and environmentally,” said Bishop.  “This legislation will create well-paying jobs in the construction industry, help us create a more sustainable infrastructure system, and allow us to better protect our coastlines from future storms like Superstorm Sandy.  It also serves as an example of the good we can accomplish by setting aside partisan differences and working together toward a common goal.”

WRRDA 2014 Highlights
The Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 is one of the most policy and reform focused measures of its kind in the last two decades.  WRRDA streamlines the project delivery process, promotes fiscal responsibility, and strengthens our water transportation networks to promote competitiveness, prosperity, and economic growth.  WRRDA contains no earmarks and makes major reforms to increase transparency, accountability, and Congressional oversight in reviewing and prioritizing future water resources development activities.
Reforms Bureaucracy, Accelerates Project Delivery, and Streamlines Environmental Reviews
•  Sets hard deadlines on the time and cost of studies
•  Consolidates or eliminates duplicative or unnecessary studies and requires concurrent reviews
•  Streamlines environmental reviews and improves coordination
Fiscally Responsible
•  Deauthorizes $18 billion of old, inactive projects that were authorized prior to WRDA 2007
•  More than fully offsets authorizations with deauthorizations
•  Sunsets new authorizations to prevent future project backlogs
•  Reduces the inventory of properties that are not needed for the missions of the Corps
Strengthens Oversight, Transparency, and Accountability
•  NO earmarks
•  Establishes a new, transparent process for future bills to review and prioritize water resources development activities with strong Congressional oversight
Increases Flexibility for Non-Federal Interests and Leverages Private Sector Investments to Multiply the Effect of Federal Funding
•  Maximizes the ability of non-federal interests to contribute their own funds to move studies and projects forward
•  Expands the ability of non-federal interests to contribute funds to expedite the evaluation and processing of permits
•  Establishes a Water Infrastructure Public Private Partnership Program and new options to expand the local role in project implementation
•  Creates innovative methods to invest in and finance water resources infrastructure and municipal drinking water and wastewater needs
Enhances Safety and Protects Communities
•  Strengthens dam and levee safety
•  Improves Army Corps of Engineers responses to extreme weather events
•  Encourages resilient construction techniques and the use of durable, sustainable, and innovative materials
Improves Competitiveness, Creates Jobs, and Strengthens Water Resources Infrastructure
•  Authorizes needed investment in America’s ports, strengthens ports that move the majority of the Nation’s commerce, and ensures equity for those ports that contribute the most to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund
•  Supports underserved, emerging ports
•  Reforms and preserves the Inland Waterways Trust Fund
•  Authorizes priority water resources infrastructure improvements recommended to Congress by the Chief of the Army Corps of Engineers to improve navigation and commerce and address flood risk management, hurricane and storm damage risk reduction, and environmental restoration needs
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