The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) bill is slated to reach the Senate floor this week. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Boxer and Ranking Member Vitter are expected to offer a manager’s amendment to include a provision to remove the Olmsted lock and dam project from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF) so that 100% of the cost of that project will be borne by the General Treasury. The amendment reportedly will identify a specific amount of money that would be authorized for full completion of Olmsted to make this a one-time action. The amendment is also expected to include an increase in the threshold for major rehabilitations, perhaps raised to $20 million from the current $14 million level. There is no word yet on the proposed 9-cent-per-gallon increase in the diesel user fee, as it is under the jurisdiction of the Senate Finance Committee.
Included in the current Committee-passed version of the WRDA bill is prioritization of navigation projects and Corps reform on delivery of projects.
WCI members and supporters are urged to access WCI’s website at www.waterwayscouncil.org and use the red “Take Action” buttons in support of amendments to the WRDA bill – S. 601 – to include three key elements: the industry-supported user fee increase, federalization of the Olmsted project, and a higher threshold on major rehabilitation projects. WCI continues to press the Senate to adopt provisions in the RIVER Act – S. 407 – that include the recommendations of the Capital Development Plan. The RIVER Act is supported by Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) as lead sponsor, with current co-sponsors Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA).
In the House, WCI supports the companion bill, WAVE 4 -- H.R.1149: Waterways Are Vital-Economy, Energy, Efficiency and Environment. The lead sponsors of that bill are Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-IL). Other co-sponsors include Congressman Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Congressman Spencer Bachus (R-AL), Congressman Bill Foster (D-IL), Congressman Rodney Davis (R-IL), Congressman Pete Olson (R-TX), Congressman Jo Bonner (R-AL), Congressman William Enyart (D-IL), Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-AL), Congressman Mike D. Rogers (R-AL), Congressman John M. Shimkus (R-IL), Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN), Congressman Dave Loebsack (D-IA), Congressman Matthew Cartwright (D-PA), Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI), Congressman Bill Johnson (R-OH), Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-AL).