Committee Approves Water Resources Development Act

WASHINGTON – The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee today unanimously approved H.R. 5303, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016, bipartisan legislation to address the needs of America’s harbors, locks, dams, flood protection, and other water resources infrastructure and help strengthen the Nation’s economic competitiveness.

The Committee held a markup of the legislation and several other measures today.

WRDA 2016 is Congress’ return to the regular, biannual process of authorizing projects and activities related to the key missions of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers, including developing and maintaining the Nation’s waterway infrastructure and supporting effective and targeted flood protection and environmental restoration needs.

The legislation, which contains no earmarks, maintains the strong bipartisan reforms included in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014, and adheres to the new transparent process established in that law for congressional review of proposed Corps water resources development activities.

“This bill is about strengthening our Nation’s infrastructure so we can remain competitive. It’s about economic growth. It’s about jobs,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA). “Water resources infrastructure is fundamental to a sound economy, and WRDA 2016 gets Congress back to basics and the business of regularly addressing the needs of our ports, waterways, lock and dam systems, flood protection, and other infrastructure. This bill contains no earmarks, follows the process reforms established in the water resources bill two years ago, and maintains congressional oversight of Corps of Engineers’ work. I commend my colleagues for their bipartisan work on this bill and look forward to moving ahead with this important legislation.”

“The Water Resources Development Act of 2016 includes several critical provisions and reforms to maintain and strengthen our ports, harbors and waterways, while boosting our nation’s economic competitiveness,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Peter DeFazio (D-OR). “This legislation will create and sustain jobs, strengthen our coastal communities, and ensure that funds collected in the Harbor Maintenance Fund will be used for their intended purpose – harbor maintenance. I thank Chairmen Shuster and Gibbs for working with me and with Ranking Member Napolitano to produce this bipartisan bill, and will work with them to move this legislation through the House.”

“Water infrastructure is a critical component to our nation’s transportation network,” said Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-OH). “In WRRDA 2014, we made major reforms to how the federal government approves and completes water projects and we streamlined the process to save taxpayer dollars. This year’s WRDA builds on that progress and continues our goal of passing a water resources bill every two years. I want to thank Chairman Shuster for his leadership in guiding WRDA through the Committee. I also thank Ranking Committee Member DeFazio and Ranking Subcommittee Member Napolitano for working so closely with us to ensure WRDA 2016 receives broad bipartisan support.”

“I am proud of the work we have done with local and state water agencies to include provisions in this bill that improve drought resilience, address regional storm water challenges, and create environmental and recreational opportunities for our constituents,” said Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Grace Napolitano (D-CA). “I commend Chairman Shuster, Ranking Member DeFazio, and Chairman Gibbs for working in a bipartisan fashion, and I look forward to our continued efforts as we move this bill forward.”

Following the review process established in the 2014 law, WRDA 2016 authorizes 28 Army Corps of Engineers Chief’s Reports submitted to Congress since the enactment of the previous measure. Chief’s Reports are the final recommendation to Congress by the Corps’ Chief of Engineers for water resources infrastructure priorities. These infrastructure improvements have been proposed at the local level, in cooperation and consultation with the Corps, and provide national economic and environmental benefits. All Chief’s Reports included in WRDA 2016 were the subject of Committee hearings this year.

The legislation authorizes approximately $5 billion in federal funding for Corps activities, offset by $5 billion in deauthorizations of previously authorized projects. The measure also sunsets new authorizations to prevent future project backlogs.

Returning to the two-year cycle of considering WRDA legislation ensures proper Congressional oversight of the Corps and enables Congress to address the Nation’s water resources development needs in a timely manner. Maintaining regular order saves money in the long term by preventing the increases in project costs that occur when necessary authorizations are stalled or delayed.

Click here for the text of the Water Resources Development Act of 2016.

Click here for a summary of the Water Resources Development Act of 2016.

In addition to H.R. 5303, the Committee also approved:

More information from today’s markup, including amendments approved, is available here.

Source: Transportation & Infrastructure Committee press release