House Approves $8.2 Billion Water Projects Bill
By Sara Jerome
The House passed legislation last week devoting $8.2 billion to water projects.
The Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 "maps out plans for dams, harbor, river navigation and other water projects for the coming decade," the Associated Press reported.
The legislation will support projects "from coast to coast and [has been labeled] an engine for job creation," the AP said. The bill would also "shelve at least $12 billion of old, inactive projects."
The legislation had overwhelming support, passing in a 417-3 vote. Here's a breakdown of the votes from the New York Times. The Senate passed its version of the bill earlier this year, The Hill reported.
The AP listed a few of the major projects funded by the bill. These include $800 million to go toward flood protection projects in Fargo, ND, and Moorhead, MN; $461 million for expansion of a port in Savannah, GA; and up to $43 million for the San Clemente, CA., shoreline.
"It's another example of the people's house focusing on ways to strengthen our economy," House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in the AP piece. "I'm proud that it passed with a strong bipartisan vote."
Despite widespread support for the legislation, passage was not always a sure thing. Influential conservative groups such as such as FreedomWorks and Heritage Action for America opposed the high price tag on the bill.
But that did not scare away conservative Republicans. "To attract conservatives, sponsors emphasized the measure's lack of earmarks, or projects for lawmakers' home districts, and changes including an accelerating of required environmental reviews that have dragged out many projects for years," the AP said.
The Hill tracked some of the controversy surrounding the legislation, which revolved around the Olmsted Lock and Dam project. This bill increased the share of federal funding allocated to the project, which is located on the border between IL and KY.
Some critics saw this as "a 'Kentucky kickback' for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY," The Hill said.
For a list of water projects that will transform North America, check out previous coverage on Water Online.
Image credit: "Capitol Hill Pre-Inauguration Scene Washington (DC) January 18, 2013," © 2013 Ron Cogswell, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en