May 20, 2014

Rahall Praises Passage of Water Bill

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) announced that the House has passed the Conference Report for H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), which authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to improve the nation’s water infrastructure, such as dams, locks, navigation channels and inland waterways. The bill was introduced by Rahall, who is the top Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that negotiated the final measure, along with Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-OH), and Subcommittee Ranking Member Tim Bishop (D-NY).

The Conference Report represents the bipartisan, bicameral agreement between House and Senate conferees responsible for negotiating a final measure between the House- and Senate-passed versions of the bill. After passing today in the House by a vote of 412-4, it is expected to be voted on later this week in the Senate before going to the President for his signature.

“This bipartisan jobs bill will revitalize our inland waterway system so that bulk commodities such as West Virginia coal can be transported more efficiently,” said Rahall. “Critically, this bill expands the Buy America requirements, ensuring that more of our nation’s infrastructure is made in America by Americans. This provision in particular further defines this legislation as being about jobs—jobs to construct flood control projects, jobs to expand our harbors, jobs to make improvements to our waterways—and American jobs in the production of the iron and steel which goes into these works.”

As the nation’s leading coal exporter, West Virginia relies heavily on water infrastructure to reach foreign buyers. In fact, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. waterways and ports directly support 9,890 jobs in the Mountain State and contribute $1.6 billion to West Virginia’s economy.  Commodities travel to and from West Virginia on many vital transportation links, such as the Ohio River, Allegheny River, Monongahela River, and the Mississippi River. The Port of Huntington Tri-State alone moves 45 million tons of coal annually and supports more than 12,000 jobs.

“This legislation is a reminder, and unfortunately a stark reminder, that when given a chance working together in a bipartisan fashion can produce solid results for the American people,” said Rahall.

In a letter to Congress in support of passing WRRDA, American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman stressed the bill’s importance to the shipment of American products.

“Given their ability to move large amounts of cargo, the nation's inland waterways are a strategic, economic and military resource.  Forty-one states, including all states east of the Mississippi River and 16 state capitols, are served by commercially navigable waterways.  Over 60 percent of America’s grain exports and many other important commodities such as fuel, coal and agricultural inputs also move through our inland waterway system,” wrote Stallman.

The text of Rahall’s remarks as prepared for delivery on the House floor today during debate on H.R. 3080 can be found here, and video of his remarks can be viewed here. Additional information on the bill can be found here.