WRRDA Conference Agreement Reached
Includes Four Major CPD Elements
Waterways Council Release
15 May 2014
After many months of negotiation between the Senate and House,
today a conference agreement was filed and released on the 2014
Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) by Senate
Environment & Public Works (EPW) Chairman Barbara Boxer and
Ranking Member David Vitter, and House Transportation &
Infrastructure (T&I) Committee Chairman Bill Shuster and
Ranking Member Nick Rahall.
The conference agreement contains four major recommendations of
the Capital Development Plan (CDP):
Olmsted Federalization: permanent cost-sharing for the remaining
cost of the Olmsted project will be 85% General Fund, 15% Inland
Waterways Trust Fund, freeing up approximately $105 million per
year for funding other Trust Fund priority projects with Olmsted
funded at $150 million per year.
Definition of Major Rehabilitation Project Eligible for Inland
Waterways Trust Fund: increased from current law level of $14
million to $20 million and adjusted annually for inflation.
Prioritization of Projects: based upon risk of failure and
economic benefit to the Nation (as proposed by the CDP).
Project Delivery: based upon CDP-recommended reforms to achieve
on-time and on-budget performance.
The conference agreement also establishes annual target
appropriations levels for increased spending of funds from the
Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) leading to full use of HMTF
funds by 2025.
Of note, WRRDA increases port channel depth from 45 to 50 feet
before non-Federal cost-sharing is required for Operations &
Maintenance (O&M). The conference report also
establishes a new 65/35 cost-sharing requirement for hurricane and
storm protection projects that cross inland or intracoastal
waterways and clarifies Corps of Engineers’ responsibilities for
The last major element of the CDP that must be addressed by
Congress is an increase to the diesel fuel user fee. House
Ways & Means Committee Chairman Camp has included a 6-cent
increase to the user fee in his February discussion draft of a tax
reform bill. Senator Casey introduced an amendment to
increase the user fee by 9 cents in the tax extenders bill in late
March, but withdrew it when it was ruled non-germane. He is
seeking to add the amendment to the first appropriate revenue
WCI urges its members and stakeholders to express their thanks for
a strong WRRDA conference agreement to our particular conference
champions: Senate EPW Committee Chairman Boxer and Ranking Member
Vitter, and House T&I Committee Chairman Shuster and Ranking
Member Rahall; and House Water Resources and Environment
Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs and Ranking Member Tim
Bishop. Thanks too to T&I Committee Vice Chairman
Congressman Jimmy Duncan.
And special thanks are also due to Rep. Ed Whitfield and Rep.
Daniel Lipinski and the 31 co-sponsors of the WAVE 4: Waterways
are Vital for the Economy, Energy, Efficiency, and Environment Act
(H.R. 1149). And great appreciation as well is due Senator
Bob Casey, Senator Lamar Alexander, Senator Mary Landrieu, Senator
Amy Klobuchar, Senator Tom Harkin, and Senator Al Franken for
authoring The RIVER Act: Reinvesting in Vital Economic Rivers and
Waterways Act (S. 407).
WCI urges Congressional approval of the long-awaited WRRDA bill,
and President Obama’s signature into law.
Use WCI’s Action Alert here to send your thanks to members of the
Senate and House for their work on WRRDA:
WCI Chairman Matt Woodruff has offered the following reflections
on the process that led to WRRDA’s inland waterways
provisions: “Over five years ago, Waterways Council, along
with the Inland Waterways Users Board, began advocating for a
comprehensive set of project delivery and funding reforms to
ensure long-term reliability and efficiency of our inland
waterways system. Many said it couldn’t be done, and some
suggested we were foolhardy for trying. But we persevered,
and in partnership with visionary Corps leaders, developed a plan,
of which many components will become law with WRRDA
2014. As we pause to enjoy this success and thank the
leaders in Congress who turned our suggestions into law, we must
prepare to finish the job by enacting the plan’s revenue
component, and recognize that the plan is living and
dynamic. We must continually weigh and balance the
system’s many needs against available resources to ensure we
maximize the reliability and efficiency of the system upon which
our nation is so heavily reliant. At the same time, we must
continually build support for the appropriations that are an
essential annual component to the plan’s execution.”
A very grateful THANK YOU! to WCI’s members and to our many
partners for their efforts to make this long journey into reality.