Waterways Council E-brief
27 May 2014
On May 22, the Water Resources Reform Development Act (WRRDA) of
2014, containing major recommendations of the Capital Development
Plan (CDP), was passed by a vote 91-7 in the Senate, clearing the
bill to be sent to the President for his signature. The
conference agreement passed the House two days earlier on May 20
by an overwhelming 412-4 vote. The bill contains four key
elements of the Capital Development Plan that were included in the
House WAVE 4 (H.R. 1149) and Senate RIVER Act (S. 407) bills, both
strongly supported by WCI:
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.
Project Delivery Process Reforms: based upon CDP-recommended
reforms to better achieve on-time and on-budget performance.
The bill also increases annual target appropriations levels for
spending of funds from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF),
with full use of HMTF funds by 2025.
Implementation of many provisions in WRRDA will not happen
immediately, as the Corps and the Secretary of the Army first must
develop and provide guidance with respect to the provisions before
they can be implemented.
The seven "nay" votes were from Republican senators Richard Burr
(NC), Tom Coburn (OK), Jeff Flake (AZ), Ron Johnson (WI), Mike Lee
(UT), John McCain (AZ) and Pat Roberts (KS). Others
who voted no on the bill last year, but yes for the final
conference report, were Senators Marco Rubio (FL), John Cornyn
(TX), Rand Paul (KY) and Tim Scott (SC).
In a WCI press release on WRRDA’s passage, WCI Chairman Matt
Woodruff said, “The nation’s towboat operators, shippers, and
labor, port, conservation and agriculture stakeholder members of
WCI applauded today’s passage of WRRDA. This bill –
and, we hope, law – will create American jobs, increase U.S.
exports, keep our nation competitive in world markets, and enhance
the reliability of the nation’s waterways transportation mode and
critical supply chain link. Today, Congress got it done and
voted to keep America moving!”
SAY THANK YOU!
WCI urges its members to express thanks for a strong WRRDA outcome
to our particular conference champions: Senate EPW Committee
Chairman Boxer and Ranking Member Vitter, and House T&I
Committee Chairman Shuster, Vice Chairman Congressman Jimmy
Duncan, and Ranking Member Rahall; House Water Resources and
Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs and Ranking Member Tim
Bishop; Rep. Ed Whitfield and Rep. Daniel Lipinski and the
31 co-sponsors of WAVE 4: Waterways are Vital for the Economy,
Energy, Efficiency, and Environment Act (H.R. 1149); and Senators
Bob Casey, Lamar Alexander, Mary Landrieu, Amy Klobuchar,
Tom Harkin, and Al Franken for authoring The RIVER Act:
Reinvesting in Vital Economic Rivers and Waterways Act (S. 407).
Use WCI’s Action Alert here to express your thanks to members of
the Senate and House for their work on WRRDA: http://cqrcengage.com/wci/home
TAX EXTENDERS STALLED
Tax extenders legislation on the Senate floor is temporarily
stalled after a cloture vote on a motion to proceed failed two
weeks ago. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Senator Mary
Landrieu (D-LA) have filed an amendment to the bill that calls for
a 9-cent increase in the current 20 cents-per-gallon inland
waterways diesel fuel tax. Senator Casey had offered a
similar amendment weeks ago when the tax extenders bill was being
marked up in committee, but the amendment was withdrawn after
germaneness objections were raised. If the Casey/Landrieu
amendment is not added to the tax extenders bill, it is likely
that it will be added to another revenue measure later this
year. When passed, a 9-cent user fee increase could add
another $80 million annually to the Corps’ Construction General
Account, with half of that drawn from the Inland Waterways Trust
FY ’15 APPROPS AHEAD
Keeping to House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers’ plan to
restore regular order by move all 12 FY ’15 appropriations bills
this year, five of the 12 bills have been acted on to date.
The Energy & Water Development (E&WD) bill that funds the
Corps of Engineers Civil Works program is not among the bills that
have been considered so far in the House, but it is likely that
the E&WD bill will be taken up and passed during June.
Defense Appropriations is likely to be up later this week after
the House returns from the Memorial Day recess.
In the Senate, June 19 is the date tentatively set for an Energy
& Water Development Subcommittee mark-up.
Healthy funding levels for the Corps of Engineers are expected in
both the House and Senate. While the bill’s 302(b)
allocation in the House was $50 million lower than FY ‘14’s
funding level, there remains strong support for Corps of Engineers
programs, particularly on the heels of WRRDA’s passage. In
the Senate, 302(b) allocations were announced last week and the
allocation for the E&WD bill is $150 million above the FY ‘14
level and $198 million above the House level.
SENATOR CASEY HONORED
WCI, in concert with the Port of Pittsburgh Commission, presented
WCI’s 2014 Leadership Service Award to Senator Bob Casey
(D-PA) for his strong and continued inland waterway leadership on
May 19 aboard the M/V Princess, Gateway Clipper Fleet in
Pittsburgh. Senator Casey was selected to receive the award
at WCI’s February meeting in Washington, DC, which was disrupted
by inclement weather.
Senator Casey is a long-time champion of America’s inland
waterways and original sponsor of S. 407, “Reinvesting in Vital
Economic Rivers and Waterways” (RIVER) Act of 2013, with six
bipartisan cosponsors. This effort was instrumental in advancing
The Water Resource Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), legislation
that will support commerce and create jobs by improving navigable
waterways on the inland river system and at ports.
CHANGE OF COMMAND IN GLORD
BG Margaret Burcham, Commander of the Great Lakes and Ohio River
Division, will move to the Joint Staff at the Pentagon and will be
replaced by BG Richard Kaiser. Her Command Change Ceremony
will take place in Cincinnati on May 28.
ACTION ALERT ON NESP
WCI’s has developed an Action Alert to improve waterfowl habitat
with an immediate start for the Navigation-Ecosystem
Sustainability Program (NESP). Send a letter of support through
this link: http://waterwayscouncil.org/action-center-2/