Politicians, industry react to president's signing of WRRDA
President Barack Obama signed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act into law Tuesday, authorizing the Army Corps of Engineers to improve the nation’s waterways and ports.
The final bill, passed by the House on May 20 and the Senate on May 22, provides funding for a host of projects around the nation including deepening projects in Boston; Savannah, Ga.; and Jacksonville, Fla.
The Florida Ports Council labeled the passage of WRRDA a “true
accomplishment.” President and Chief Executive Officer Dough Wheeler
said, “This bill contains critical improvements to the Corps project
approval process, seaport policy improvements, and long-overdue release
of HMT funds." He said these programs "will assist Florida ports’ efforts in creating jobs,
growing the economy and continuing to position Florida as a global hub
JaxPort CEO Brian Taylor said the act will help fund the Mile Point and Harbor Deepening projects.
“Today is a historic day for one of our nation’s most valuable
resources – our waterways," he said in a
statement. "The president’s signing of the Water Resources Reform and
Development Act makes it clear that this nation stands behind our ports
and is taking the steps necessary to fund and maintain critical projects
needed to grow our country’s economy.
LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America – said of the action: “We applaud Congress for their bipartisan action in passing the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, which will help strengthen our country by providing resources for sorely needed upgrades to our waterways."
The group added that Congress proved it could put politics aside, but mentioned its hope for more action, saying that the “stakes are high.”
“We are eager to see them do it again by passing a long-term, full-investment Highway Bill that keeps our roads and bridges safe, and creates stability and confidence in the construction industry, which is needed to invest in longer-term, jobs-creating projects,” LIUNA said.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, applauded the bipartisan success, calling it a good example of what happens when “Democrats decide to work together with Republicans.”
As a member of the Conference Committee on WRRDA, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., included
provisions to the law that cut waste in the Corps’ budget and providing
funding for rural communities to comply with federal regulations.
Barrasso, in a statement, said the law “is going to save lives and property from flood and drought, cut wasteful spending and protect Wyoming’s water rights."
The National Corn Growers Association offered its thanks Tuesday, saying the WRRDA provides “vital” infrastructure improvements to the country’s inland waterway system.
“Our locks and dams transport our cargoes today, but were built in the 1920s and 1930s to accommodate far smaller loads and far less river traffic,” NCGA President Martin Barbre said in a statement. “For farmers in particular, this is crucial, as more than 60 percent of the nation’s grain exports are transported by barge. The need is urgent; U.S. farmers and businesses rely upon this transportation channel to create economic opportunities at home and supply markets abroad. Now, it is imperative that we continue our momentum related to waterways improvements by passing the diesel user fee.”
Some members of Congress took to social media to voice their opinion of Tuesday’s signing. Rep. Bill Schuster (R-Pa.) tweeted Tuesday afternoon: "NO earmarks, makes govt more efficient, & supports millions of jobs.” Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) announced the WRRDA passage on his Twitter page, with a special mention of its benefit for Florida. He tweeted: “President signed Water Resources bill into law. It will provide funding for ports, restores Everglades.”