January 11, 2024

Ranking Members Larsen, Napolitano Statements from Hearing on Member Priorities for WRDA 2024

Washington, D.C. — The following are opening remarks, as prepared for delivery, from Ranking Member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Rick Larsen (D-WA) and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA) during today’s hearing titled, “Proposals for a Water Resources Development Act of 2024: Members’ Day Hearing.”

More information on the hearing can be found here.

Ranking Member Larsen:
I’d like to welcome everyone to our Member Day Hearing, which is an opportunity for our House colleagues to share with the T&I Committee the water resources needs and priorities that are most pressing for their constituents. Close to forty members have signed up to testify today.

This Committee is now working together on solving local water resources challenges and creating economic opportunity for the people we represent.

That history of success is evidenced by the five bipartisan and bicameral WRDAs enacted since 2014—a tradition we expect to carry forward with passage of this sixth WRDA in a row.

The enthusiasm of members seeking to testify today is not surprising. This hearing is happening at a very important time.

After years of neglect, we are now seeing real and sustained investments in our nation's water-related infrastructure, including ports and harbors, flood risk reduction for communities, and restoration of the natural environment.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) is delivering tangible results for communities all across the country. The BIL provided a massive downpayment—a total of about $17 billion—for studying and implementing critical WRDA projects. Ensuring that we continue to build on that success is essential, and the testimony our colleagues deliver today will aid us in that effort.

WRDA 2024 is also an opportunity to continue to advance the policy achievements of the last few WRDAs, including:

  • Supporting America’s competitive edge by investing in harbor and inland waterway navigation;
  • Making investments that create jobs and opportunities for everyone;
  • Building climate-resilient communities;
  • Increasing equity across Corps projects, especially to advance the needs of economically disadvantaged and tribal communities; and
  • Addressing local water and wastewater infrastructure needs.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your commitment to working in a bipartisan manner to see this legislation over the finish line.

Including a diverse range of perspectives is essential to ensuring the work of this Committee meets the needs of people from across the country. Making sure our Members can directly advocate for their districts is an essential part of this process.

Thank you to all Members who have made time to come before the Committee today. I am eager to hear your testimony.

Ranking Member Napolitano:
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this third hearing in a series to inform our development of a new Water Resources Development Act for 2024. The Army Corps of Engineers are our largest water managers in the nation, and our resident experts on everything from flood prevention, to water supply, to aquatic ecosystem restoration.

We have so far heard excellent testimony from Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Michael Connor, as well as Lieutenant General Scott Spellmon, Chief of Engineers at the Corps.

We’ve also heard from highly engaged stakeholders, who shared helpful insight into the impacts and policies of the Corps’ work. Truly, every different perspective is helpful to our work here.

Today, we welcome Members of the House to present their priorities for consideration in WRDA 2024. The Corps operates nationwide, with impacts on just about every single district in the country.

With a reach so far and wide, we need to make sure we recognize the district-specific issues facing our communities. These will be totally different on the east coast versus the west, and even different within a particular state. 

The testimony we receive today will help to inform us on what matters most to our colleagues as we move forward with drafting legislation. This local perspective is key to helping our communities achieve their desired outcomes and ensuring the Corps’ expertise is accessible to all those who seek it.

As we start developing our sixth consecutive, bipartisan, WRDA bill, we are seeing that this legislation has become a product of its own success.

Our constituents demand and now expect that we move forward in developing this legislation every Congress. This consistency and predictability is essential to the Corps itself, and stakeholders across the country.

Mr. Chairman, I look forward to a continued partnership with you in addressing the unique needs of members on both sides of the aisle.  The success of this Committee on WRDAs has come from recognizing that collaboration and compromise are the tools to success in these hyper-partisan times.  That was true under the leadership of former Chair Shuster and Chair DeFazio, and I look forward to a similar path under your leadership and the leadership of Chair Graves.

Thank you to all Members who have made time to come before the Committee today.

I look forward to your testimony and working with you to write another successful WRDA bill and continue the important work of the Corps for water resources projects nationwide.