House Passes Waterway Modernization Measure
24 October 2013
By Paul J. Nyden
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A bill that overwhelmingly passed the House
of Representatives this week -- under the stewardship of Rep. Nick
Rahall, D-W.Va., among others -- would mean billions of dollars
for the United States' network of inland waterways and ports.
The Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 passed by a
vote of 417-3 on Wednesday.
Rahall, top Democrat on the House Transportation and
Infrastructure Committee, and Committee Chairman Rep. Bill
Shuster, R-Pa., sponsored the bill. The bill will now go to a
House-Senate conference committee; the Senate passed a similar
bill earlier this year.
Transportation Weekly, a publication of the Legislative Services
Group based in Front Royal, Va., called the vote "a triumph" for
Shuster and Rahall, who "fought to restore the bipartisan
tradition of the T&I panel after those traditions broke down"
under earlier committee leaders.
"When most people think about how our coal gets moved from the
mines out to the markets, they immediately think of freight rail,"
Rahall said in a statement. "We are just as dependent on our
nation's system of inland waterways and our network of ports for
the transport of coal throughout the country and, indeed, the
"This legislation, approved by the House, authorizes needed
funding for the modernization of these watery corridors of
commerce so that our commodities can reach overseas markets
efficiently and support job growth in our state," Rahall said.
Before the bill passed, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., spoke
in favor of it on the House floor.
"West Virginia is in the Ohio River basin, where coal makes up 59
percent of the shipped tonnage," she said. "Domestic power plants
rely on our rivers to maintain a steady supply of coal, and our
country's coal exports have nearly doubled in the last four
Capito called the bill's passage a "significant victory for West
Virginia jobs, for American jobs."
The Associated Press reported that Shuster convinced some of the
House's most conservative members to support the bill, despite
outside right-wing groups like FreedomWorks, Taxpayers for Common
Sense and Heritage Action for America that urged House members to
vote against the bill.
Rahall said he was "proud of the manner in which [the bill] was
"Chairman Shuster and I worked cooperatively to produce a bill
that received unanimous support in our committee and which
garnered overwhelming bipartisan support in the full House," he
said. "This bill is an example of the type of progress we can make
when Congress puts the rhetoric aside and concentrates on results
that benefit our country."
Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjny...@wvgazette.com of 304-348-5164.