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The top transportation policymaker in the U.S. House recently called on colleagues to approve a committee-passed water infrastructure bill.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said the bill merits approval when it is up for a vote on the House floor. The bill advanced in committee this month. A vote has yet to be scheduled for floor consideration.
House lawmakers resume their legislative agenda in early June, after the congressional Memorial Day recess.
“[The bill will] continue to provide federal resources to rural and urban communities alike, as well as help communities most vulnerable to climate change to prepare for its impacts,” DeFazio said soon after his committee’s action on the Water Resources Development Act of 2022.
For emphasis, he added: “I urge my colleagues to pass this bill on the House floor without delay.”
The House bill would approve 16 projects under the jurisdiction of the Army Corps of Engineers. Such projects would focus on dredging, commercial navigation and flood control. It would seek to pave the way for 72 feasibility studies on corps projects related to reservoirs, commercial corridors and alternative sources of energy.
The measure also would aim to boost interoperability across the federal landscape and include state agencies and tribal nations.
Thus far, the bill has gained bipartisan backing.
“I am pleased the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee unanimously voted to advance the Water Resources Development Act of 2022, which includes priorities I fought to include for southeastern North Carolina,” said Rep. David Rouzer (R-N.C.), Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee ranking member.
“From policies addressing flood risk, to initiatives to improve our ports and stabilize our inland waterways, this meaningful legislation is critical to address the unique needs of our communities in North Carolina and to strengthen the entire U.S. economy,” Rouzer continued, “I’m pleased this bill passed out of committee with strong bipartisan support, and I look forward to its passage on the House floor in the coming weeks.”
On the Senate side, the panel’s counterparts recently approved their version of the water policy bill. That legislation also would aim to approve dozens of Army Corps of Engineers construction projects and feasibility studies.
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.) said, “This year’s reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act would authorize the modification of existing and construction of new, critical Army Corps projects in Delaware and throughout the country — projects that will significantly improve quality of life, create good-paying jobs and protect communities against the threats of climate change.”
As part of the bill’s consideration, senators are requesting funding that would be specifically dedicated for local water-centric projects.
Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (D) is proposing colleagues approve about $50 million for the Western Lee County Wastewater project in his home state. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is seeking funding for various projects in South Carolina, such as nearly $50 million for upgrades to waterways along interstates 95 and 26. And Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Commerce Committee ranking member, is seeking additional funding for various programs, such as nearly $14 million for a wastewater project in Clinton, Miss.
Congressional leaders have indicated they would aim to arrive at a final version of the water policy bill soon after each chamber advances its legislative versions. The water-centric bills respond to ongoing supply chain bottlenecks, which stakeholders say contribute to a slowdown of certain goods and commodities.
The water policy legislative package has been endorsed by various stakeholders, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
“Reauthorization of America’s water resources programs is critical to economic growth and meeting our ambitious climate and infrastructure goals,” the group observed.
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