October 22, 2013

Rahall Urges Passage of Bipartisan, Pro-Jobs Water Resources Bill

Rahall Urges Passage of Bipartisan, Pro-Jobs Water Resources Bill

Floor Statement
The Honorable Nick Rahall II, Ranking Member
H.R. 3080:  The Water Resources Reform Development Act of 2013
October 23, 2013

I am pleased to rise today to support H.R. 3080:  “the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013.”  This legislation provides important direction to the Army Corps of Engineers to meet its mission objectives and reform their planning and construction processes while also investing in our water transportation infrastructure and creating jobs. 

It has been six long years since we have passed Corps of Engineers water resources legislation.  And while Congress has had its back turned on our water infrastructure, Mother Nature has not been complacent. Since passage of the last WRDA in 2007 the Nation has been challenged with floods, hurricanes, droughts.  Our aging locks, dams, and ports have too often been neglected.  This bill before us today stops the finger in the dike solutions to our water infrastructure challenges and instead invests in these corridors of commerce. 

It should be pointed out that H.R. 3080 is not your traditional type of WRDA.  It does not contain Member directed projects, the traditional earmarks, but at least the bill takes a step forward toward reclaiming our Constitutional authority.

It is clear that in today’s challenging fiscal times we have to find innovative ways to get water projects funded and completed. The pending measure identifies the role of non-federal sponsors in supporting and moving projects ahead, it provides a process to address the $60 billion construction backlog, and addresses initial reform to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund program.

At its core though, this is a jobs bill.  The investments contained in H.R. 3080 mean jobs in our maritime economy as larger containerships will be able to call at our deepened ports to offload their cargo while filling their decks with American exports. It creates jobs moving commodities from farms, coal mines and steel mills more efficiently down the inland waterways that crisscross our nation. These investments also help protect our flood prone communities so that homes and businesses remain safe when the rivers unexpectedly rise.

Without maintaining our waterways and harbors the Nation’s ability to meet the global challenges for trade and commerce will be severely restricted. The only way to protect our citizens and avoid falling behind global trade competition is to invest in our water resources and infrastructure by passing H.R. 3080 today.

I’d like to thank all the Members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, especially Congressman Tim Bishop, for their hard work and dedication to developing a collaborative and bipartisan bill that we can all be proud of.  I urge my colleagues to support the pending measure