Senate to Take Up Water Resources Development Act (WRDA)

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The Senate is expected to take up the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) when Senators return to Washington today. At this time, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said that he will hold a cloture vote on the legislation Monday evening. Cloture requires 60 votes and limits debate in order to block an attempt at a filibuster.

ASCE strongly urges the Senate to take up and pass S.601, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2013.  ASCE’s 2013 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure graded the nation’s ports a “C”, inland waterways a “D-”, dams a “D”, and levees a “D-”. Our nation’s water resources infrastructure is critical to our economy, public safety, and the preservation and enhancement of our environmental resources. In fact, ASCE’s Failure to Act economic study on the nation’s marine ports and inland waterways shows that underinvesting in just these two sectors threatens more than 1 million U.S. jobs and $270 billion in U.S. exports by 2020.

The current Senate bill makes a strong commitment to our nation’s critical water resources infrastructure and ASCE strongly supports language that:

  • Creates a National Levee Safety Program;
  • Reauthorizes the National Dam Safety Program;
  • Restores trust to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund;
  • Creates a new Water Infrastructure Finance Innovations Authority (WIFIA); and
  • Streamlines the project approval process for water resources projects.

During debate ASCE urges the Senate to consider a nine cent increase in the user fee for the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (IWTF). The IWTF, which was created in 1978, now funds half the cost of new construction and major rehabilitation of the inland waterway infrastructure. Increasing the user fee on the inland waterways system from 20 cents per gallon to 29 cents is long overdue and will allow for an increase in overall spending on the system.

ASCE Key Contacts should reach out to their Senators and urge them to support WRDA when it reaches the Senate floor.

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