Full Committee Markup of House WRRDA Legislation
By Eric Sapirstein, President of ENS Resources
On September 19, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved and reported favorably to the House, H.R. 3080, the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 (WRRDA). The bill authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to maintain waterways infrastructure needs and support flood protection and environmental restoration needs. While there has been a modicum of opposition expressed by environmental groups over perceived reductions to environmental safeguards and conservatives critical of the absence of deeper funding cuts, the mark up was largely a bipartisan rally for in support of the legislation. While not mentioned at the markup, Chairman Shuster previously expressed that he is working with leadership and plans to bring the bill to the floor in October.
In his opening remarks, Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) stated, “WRRDA 2013 WRRDA strengthens oversight, transparency, and accountability – and maintains Constitutional Congressional authority. WRRDA has NO earmarks. And our bill establishes a new, transparent process for future bills to review and prioritize water resources development activities – with strong Congressional oversight, and without Congress handing over its authority to the executive branch.” Shuster restated his commitment that the WRRDA process return to regular order and be accomplished every two years to allow for projects to move through the process in a timely manner.
The area that generated the most discussion was the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF). California Representatives Janice Hahn (D-CA) and Grace Napolitano (D-CA) offered amendments to expand the eligible uses of the HMTF and to return a great amount of each states’ contribution. While these amendments were withdrawn, they are expected to be part of the floor debate on H.R. 3080.
The Committee considered several amendments to the $10 billion authorization bill:
(Approved) Manager’s Amendment
– Technical and conforming changes
– Clarifying environmental streamlining provisions
– (Adds) Section related to projects that meet or exceed their cost limits
– Non-federal sponsor may contribute to continue their projects
“The Secretary may accept funds from a non-Federal interest for any authorize water resources development project that has exceeded its maximum cost under subsection (a), and use such funds to carry out such project, if the use of such funds does not increase the Federal share of the cost of such project.”
– Expands use of HMTF – allows funding for dredging of non-federal berths (Section 201)
– (Adds) Aquatic ecosystem restoration as eligible activity under the Water Infrastructure Public-Private Partnership Program (Section 114)
– Amends the River and Harbor Act to include aquatic invasive species (Section 134)
– Projects not included in annual report
“The Secretary shall include in the annual report an appendix listing the proposals submitted under subsection (b) that were not included in the annual report under paragraph (1)(A) and a description of why the Secretary determined that those proposals did not meet the criteria for inclusion under such paragraph.”
(Withdrawn) Southerland (R-FL) – interstate water compacts (GA, FL)
(Approved) Shuster offered a substitute amendment as a Sense of Congress supporting the need for solutions to address interstate compact issues
(Withdrawn) Hahn (D-CA) and Napolitano (D-CA) – Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund
Would take the HMTF off budget
(Withdrawn) Hahn (D-CA) and Napolitano (D-CA)
To increase from 5% to 10% the flexibility of the USCOE to use funds for non-traditional uses
(Withdrawn) Napolitano (D-CA) – Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund
Ensures that at least 30 percent of the money each state contributes to the harbor maintenance trust fund stays in state.
(Withdrawn) Nolan (D-MN) – non-federal sponsor requirement to indemnify
(Withdrawn) Cohen (D-TN)
Single management approach for main stem of Mississippi
(Withdrawn) Brown (D-FL)
Consideration for projects scheduled to be completed within the next two years
(Withdrawn) DeFazio (D-OR)
Authorizing the Secretary of the Army to spend up to $30 million on battling invasive aquatic species.
Garamendi supported amendment noted Sac River Basin and Clear Lake