From Bloomberg Government News: Dredging, Fracking, Farm Bills Waylaid by CR

  • by BPC Staff
  • on October 2, 2013




No CR? Then No Dredging Bill or Anything Else

By Derek Wallbank

The first bill to increase dredging of U.S. ports and waterways since 2007 will be delayed at least as long as the federal government remains shut down, two Republican leadership aides said.

The House probably won’t move legislation on any topic other than government funding until a deal is reached on a continuing resolution, according to the aides, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss floor strategy.

The House had been tentatively scheduled to consider a water infrastructure bill, H.R. 3080, next week.

“We’re going through something now that’s pretty important to the nation, so hopefully it won’t throw us too far off,” Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster said in an interview.

Among the large projects that the bill would authorize are dredging of the Sabine-Neches Waterway on the Texas-Louisiana border, an oil and liquefied natural gas shipping hub, and deepening the Port of Savannah, which accounted for nearly 11 percent of U.S. container exports over the last fiscal year, according to a statement on the Georgia Ports Authority‘s website.

The federal government would be authorized to spend about $779 million of the $1.1 billion needed to dredge the Sabine-Neches Waterway, while contributing $461 million of the $662 million Savannah Harbor project, according to bill text.

Fracking and Dodd-Frank

If the shutdown persists, it also could delay consideration of H.R. 2728, a bill to block the implementation of federal regulations against hydrofracking, as well as action on border security legislation.

Both issues were mentioned in a Sept. 6 memo to House Republicans from Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

The memo didn’t say which border-security bill Cantor wanted to move to the floor by the end of October. Committee-reported options include H.R. 1417, which would require the Homeland Security Department to submit a plan to secure the border within five years, and H.R. 2279, which would allow state and local law enforcement agencies to enforce immigration law.

Also in limbo: H.R. 992 and H.R. 2374, bills that would limit regulations under Dodd-Frank. Both bills had been scheduled for consideration Sept. 28 by the House Rules Committee. The meeting was postponed and hasn’t been rescheduled.

Farm Bill

Even measures not on the floor appear to be falling behind schedule because of the end-of-fiscal-year spending stalemate.

Conferees to the farm bill, H.R. 2642, have yet to be appointed in the House and leaders haven’t decided when they will be named.

“The question is when will the speaker have time to focus on that given all the other issues going on,” House Agriculture Chairman Frank Lucas said in an interview.

The Oklahoma Republican said he’s not aware of any decisions made yet, including whether any non-Agriculture members will be on the conference.

Shuster said that his committee is preparing as if the water-resources reauthorization will come up next week. A briefing for members on the details of the measure is still planned, he said.

“This is obviously a pretty serious fight we’ve got to resolve, so we’ll see what happens next week,” Shuster, a Pennsylvania Republican, said. “You never know, we may get this thing resolved.”

The Senate passed its own water infrastructure bill, S. 601, on May 15.