House Panel Takes Up Water Resources Development Act

Transportation Leaders Push for 2024 Passage
Hoover Dam
The Hoover Dam. The legislation aims to improve connectivity and boost funding for ports, dams, waterways, canals and locks. (Luis Lopez Pastor/Getty Images)

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This month, the transportation panel in the U.S. House of Representatives plans to vote on a policy update to the country’s commercial waterways.

Consideration of the Water Resources Development Act is expected as early as the week of June 24. The bill markup in the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is meant to pave the way for the measure’s passage in the chamber sometime this summer. The legislation aims to improve connectivity and boost funding for ports, dams, waterways, canals and locks. These Army Corps of Engineers projects are mainstays in most congressional districts.

A draft of the bill is likely to be unveiled days before it goes to the committee, senior Capitol Hill aides familiar with the bill’s timing told Transport Topics.

Rep. David Rouzer (R-N.C.), chairman of the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee, anticipates a bipartisan push on the measure. A co-sponsor of the bill, earlier this year he said, “I anticipate that we’ll have a good bipartisan product. I anticipate that we’ll have no issues marking up in the [House] subcommittee because of the work that’s going to be done ahead of time.”

David Rouzer


In February, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Sam Graves (R-Mo.) highlighted WRDA’s economic role in guaranteeing efficiency along supply chains. “It is important to maintain the two-year cycle of passing WRDAs to authorize projects for ports, locks and dams, inland waterways, flood protection, and to provide needed direction to the Army Corps of Engineers,” the chairman explained during an outlook for the panel’s agenda.

A month earlier, Graves’ colleagues reviewed proposals during a “Members’ Day” hearing, ranging from port expansion projects to environmental surveys for dams and waterways. The Water Resources Development Act of 2024 is the latest version of the biennial law, versions of which have been enacted by previous administrations since 2014. During this election year, the measure is among the few must-pass items likely to reach the president’s desk.

Sam Graves


According to background information the committee provided, “WRDA projects typically require two separate types of authorization: the authority to study the feasibility of a project, followed by the authority to construct, operate and/or maintain the project. Completed feasibility studies are submitted to Congress in the form of a chief’s report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Chief of Engineers.”

On the Senate side, the Environment and Public Works Committee recently advanced its version of the water infrastructure measure. Committee Chairman Tom Carper (D-Del.), WRDA’s lead co-sponsor in that chamber, said he anticipates floor consideration will occur soon.

Tom Carper


“This year’s reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act directs the Corps to construct critical water infrastructure projects and continue vital flood risk management and ecosystem restoration programs — all while making our communities more resilient to extreme weather and creating good-paying jobs. I look forward to the work ahead to get this important legislation to the president’s desk,” Carper said May 22.

Per background from the EPW panel, the bill, which was approved unanimously, authorizes 81 feasibility studies and eight new or modified construction projects. “This bill directs the Corps to expedite the completion of several ongoing studies and projects. The bill also creates and modifies certain environmental infrastructure authorities of the Corps that address water and wastewater infrastructure needs in communities across the country,” EPW said.

In keeping with WRDA’s bipartisan tone, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), EPW ranking member, observed: “Every two years, the Environment and Public Works Committee supports the Corps in carrying out its civil works mission through the Water Resources Development Act.

“This year’s WRDA 2024 contains significant wins for West Virginia, and I appreciate the EPW committee working together to advance this important bipartisan legislation today.”

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