Washington, D.C.— Congressman Tom Rice (SC-07) today joined his colleagues on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) of 2013 out of committee; sending it the U.S. House of Representatives for a vote.

 

Our Nation’s maritime system handles 99 percent of our trade. Through this legislation, Congress authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to carry out its missions to develop, maintain, and support our water infrastructure, and supports targeted flood protection and environmental restoration needs.  Historically, Congress has passed similar legislation every two years to provide clear direction to the Administration and the Corps, but no bill has been signed into law since 2007.  The Water Resources Reform and Development Act will be one of the most reform focused measures of its kind in the last two decades.

“My constituents sent me to Washington to work on the significant infrastructure needs of South Carolina’s Seventh Congressional District, such as deepening the Georgetown Port,” said Congressman Rice.  “My top priority is jobs, and nearly 13 million jobs  rely on water infrastructure.  The legislation we advanced today breaks down the barriers hindering vital port and maritime projects, which ultimately protects millions of American jobs and creates more high-wage jobs.  WRRDA also cuts red tape, streamlines the Corps’ process to prevent waste, and fully offsets new authorizations by deauthorizing huge backlogs of old projects.  Overall this bipartisan bill will give our nation’s infrastructure—including the Georgetown Port—the attention it needs for us to compete globally.”

Earlier this year when the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee was drafting WRRDA, Congressman Rice brought Chairman Bill Shuster to South Carolina’s Seventh Congressional District to observe the needs of the Georgetown Port.  After learning more about the importance of the port and its unfortunate status, Chairman Shuster appropriately summarized its predicament. “This is a perfect example of what is wrong with our ability to improve infrastructure,” Chairman Shuster said. “It is the old case of the chicken and the egg.”

In order to remedy this situation, section 202 of WRRDA includes language that instructs the Army Corps of Engineers to use metrics other than tonnage when determining future port dredging projects.  

Furthermore, this increases the percentage of funds used from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund from 6 percent, to 10 percent, for low-use ports such as the Georgetown Port.  To view more information about WRRDA, including the bill and amendment text, click here.