Committee Releases Water Resources and Reform Act Conference Report

South Carolina Ports Win Big in Conferenced Water Bill

Washington, DC— The Conference Report to H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA), was filed in the House of Representatives today.  WRRDA was introduced in the House by Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA), Committee Ranking Member Nick J. Rahall, II (D-WV), Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-OH), and Subcommittee Ranking Member Tim Bishop (D-NY). 

Congressman Tom Rice and fellow conference committee members have been working on this report since the House of Representatives passed WRRDA on October 23, 2013 by a vote of 417 to 3.  The bicameral group of conferees reached an agreement on a final measure last week, and now both Houses of Congress must approve the Conference Report in order to send it to the President to be signed into law.

“South Carolina ports, and ports across the country, will greatly benefit from this Water Resources Bill,” said Rice. “I am proud to have worked so closely with my colleagues on the conference committee to ensure our final Water Bill would make our country and ports more competitive.  This reform-focused legislation is good for our country, and I am hopeful that it will soon make its way to the President’s desk.” 

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(Congressman Tom Rice signs the Conference Committee Report, May 9, 2014)

“This measure will strengthen our Nation’s transportation network, keep America competitive in the global marketplace, and reform and streamline the way we move forward with improvements to our ports, locks, dams, and other water resources infrastructure,” Shuster said.  “This legislation is about jobs and our country’s economic prosperity, and I look forward to bringing it back to the House for a final vote.”

Congressman Rice was honored to have been the only member of the South Carolina delegation selected to serve on the bicameral Conference Committee. The conference committee’s full report, highlights of the measure, and a section-by-section can be found HERE. 

WRRDA 2014 Highlights

(courtesy of the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee)

The Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 is one of the most policy and reform focused measures of its kind in the last two decades.  WRRDA streamlines the project delivery process, promotes fiscal responsibility, and strengthens our water transportation networks to promote competitiveness, prosperity, and economic growth.  WRRDA contains no earmarks and makes major reforms to increase transparency, accountability, and Congressional oversight in reviewing and prioritizing future water resources development activities.

Reforms Bureaucracy, Accelerates Project Delivery, and Streamlines Environmental Reviews

·  Sets hard deadlines on the time and cost of studies

·  Consolidates or eliminates duplicative or unnecessary studies and requires concurrent reviews

·  Streamlines environmental reviews and improves coordination

Fiscally Responsible

·  Deauthorizes $18 billion of old, inactive projects that were authorized prior to WRDA 2007

·  More than fully offsets authorizations with deauthorizations

·  Sunsets new authorizations to prevent future project backlogs

·  Reduces the inventory of properties that are not needed for the missions of the Corps

Strengthens Oversight, Transparency, and Accountability

·  NO earmarks

·  Establishes a new, transparent process for future bills to review and prioritize water resources development activities with strong Congressional oversight 

Increases Flexibility for Non-Federal Interests and Leverages Private Sector Investments to Multiply the Effect of Federal Funding

·  Maximizes the ability of non-federal interests to contribute their own funds to move studies and projects forward

·  Expands the ability of non-federal interests to contribute funds to expedite the evaluation and processing of permits

·  Establishes a Water Infrastructure Public Private Partnership Program and new options to expand the local role in project implementation

·  Creates innovative methods to invest in and finance water resources infrastructure and municipal drinking water and wastewater needs

Enhances Safety and Protects Communities

·  Strengthens dam and levee safety

·  Improves Army Corps of Engineers responses to extreme weather events

·  Encourages resilient construction techniques and the use of durable, sustainable, and innovative materials

Improves Competitiveness, Creates Jobs, and Strengthens Water Resources Infrastructure

·  Authorizes needed investment in America’s ports, strengthens ports that move the majority of the Nation’s commerce, and ensures equity for those ports that contribute the most to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund

·  Supports underserved, emerging ports

·  Reforms and preserves the Inland Waterways Trust Fund

·  Authorizes priority water resources infrastructure improvements recommended to Congress by the Chief of the Army Corps of Engineers to improve navigation and commerce and address flood risk management, hurricane and storm damage risk reduction, and environmental restoration needs