Washington Update

National Waterways Conference News Alert
13 December 2013 

WRDA Update At their first meeting on November 20th to reconcile the differences in their respective water resources bills, House and Senate conferees set an aggressive goal to produce a final conference report before they adjourned for the year.  However, the House left town last night, and the Senate will follow suit next week, leaving WRDA negotiations at a standstill.      

Among the issues still being debated are the expenditures from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, the method by which to authorize projects, and the Senate’s WIFIA program.  Both chambers hope to come back renewed in January, with a goal of reaching a final agreement later in the month or perhaps in February.

In the meantime, the Administration has weighed in, setting forth its views on various issues, as detailed in the attached letter.  The Administration objects to the project streamlining processes in both the House and Senate bills, and opposes any financial or procedural penalties for failure to meet project delivery timelines.  The Administration also objects to various cost-sharing provisions, including the Olmsted adjustment in both bills, the use of HMTF revenues for activities that are not currently a Federal responsibility, and the O&M shift from 45ft to 50ft channel deepening.

[UMRA note: the Administration's remarks make no reference to cost-sharing for Corps operations.]

The Administration would support adding fish and wildlife protection as an authorized purpose for all Corps’ dams, and thus objects to section 2014 in the Senate bill (dam optimization) and section 143 in the House bill, which would prohibit adding other authorized purposes.  (As mentioned in other alerts, there are other significant concerns with section 2014).  

Budget Deal

The House yesterday passed a bipartisan budget bill crafted by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA).  Adopted by  a 332-94 vote, the agreement sets the funding levels for federal expenditures for the next two years.  

The agreement, which calls for a $45 billion increase in spending for the current year, cancels out some of the sequestration cuts for the next two years with a mix of revenue increases and spending cuts in years to come.  It heads off the immediate threat of another government shutdown, but the Appropriations Committees will have until January 15th (when the current continuing resolution expires) to develop an omnibus bill.  At this point, the 302 (b) level – the amount that will be allocated to the energy and water bill – has not been determined.  No details have emerged on Corps’ funding, but Interior Secretary Sally Jewell cautioned that the agreement leaves in place sequestration cuts to mandatory funds that could affect states and water programs.  The agreement also does not deal with the looming debt ceiling, an issue that House Speaker Boehner said will be addressed sometime next year.  

NFIP Action

The effort to bring the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (S. 1610) to the Senate floor for a vote as a standalone bill under Unanimous Consent earlier this week was not successful.   Efforts continue on this front and we will keep you apprised of further developments. 

CEQ Changes

Both Director Nancy Sutley and the Deputy Director Gary Guzy have announced their intention to depart from the Council on Environmental Quality in the coming weeks.  Currently, the third in line is Chief of Staff Michael Boots.  No other announcements have been made at this point.  

SAVE THE DATE - 2014 Legislative Summit 

March 24-26.  Registration will be coming in early January. 

National Waterways Conference, Inc.

1100 North Glebe Road
Suite 1010
Arlington, VA  22201