Congress Prepares for WRDA Floor Debate

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The Senate is expected to vote on S.2800, America’s Water Infrastructure Act, or the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), in the coming weeks after about six months of Committee work, drafting, and negotiation. WRDA proposes continued American investment into infrastructure like dams, levees, and ports. If approved, WRDA will authorize water programs vital to American economic growth.

On the House side, the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee unanimously approved the bipartisan bill. On Tuesday June 5, the House Rules Committee took up WRDA, or H.R. 8, to discuss the terms of debate and amendments for floor debate. It is expected that a House vote on WRDA will take place tonight June 6.

ASCE has been a longtime advocate of one of WRDA’s main tenants—public-private partnerships (P3s). P3s provide the federal government with a way to incentivize private investment to help fund necessary infrastructure projects that serve the public interest. ASCE believes that Congressional authorizers must fully utilize alternative financing and delivery methods when appropriate, including implementation of both the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE’s) Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) and Section 5014 of Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (WRRDA). WIFIA, through the EPA and the USACE, administers federal credit to eligible water and wastewater infrastructure projects. Additionally, Section 5014 of WRRDA authorizes the Secretary of the Army to enter into P3s to finance construction of at least 15 authorized water development programs.

There continues to be a growing gap in the needed investment to sustain America’s inland waterways. ASCE understands the importance of addressing this issue based on the grade of a “D” given to the nation’s inland waterways, a “D” in dams, a “D” in levees, and a “C+” in ports in ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card. ASCE supports WRDA because it effectively addresses the need to close the investment gap in these four areas. Both the Senate and the House WRDA bills have the bipartisan support necessary to ensure the future of America’s infrastructure. By connecting private funds and local level water-related infrastructure plans, WRDA will improve overall American infrastructure.

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