ST. LOUIS- House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) released the Water Resources Reform & Development Act (WRRDA) at a press conference and stakeholder briefing attended by ASA Washington staff.
Chairman Shuster’s bill has the support of T&I committee Ranking Member Nick Rahall (D-W.V.) and Water Resources Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) and Ranking Member Timothy Bishop (D-N.Y.). The committee has scheduled a mark-up of the bill for Thursday, September 19. The Senate passed its Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) in May of this year by a vote of 83-14.
“ASA strongly supports enactment of waterways legislation that makes significant progress in repairing and revitalizing our aging waterways infrastructure,” said ASA President Danny Murphy, a soybean farmer from Canton, Miss. “U.S. soybean farmers rely on a healthy waterways infrastructure to move their soybeans to market. The U.S. exports more than half of the soybeans grown in this country and having reliable and efficient waterways and ports is essential to maintaining our competitiveness in global markets. We are encouraged by many parts of the WRRDA bill and will work to see it passed.”
The draft developed by Chairman Shuster includes provisions supported by ASA to:
- streamline environmental reviews,
- establish hard deadlines and cost caps on project studies,
- allow non-federal interests to contribute funds to expedite project components,
- annually increase the amount of funding that is provided from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) for port maintenance and dredging, and
- free up money and increase the capacity of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF) by reducing the federal cost share of the Olmsted Lock and Dam project to 25% and requiring the Corps to study and report on bonding, user fees, and other potential funding sources.
The House Republican Leadership indicated its support the bill, issuing a memo to members last week touting that the proposal “cuts federal red tape and bureaucracy, streamlines the project delivery process, improves competitiveness, strengthens water resources infrastructure, and promotes fiscal responsibility.”