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  October 6th, 2016 | Written by

Water Resources Bill Passes In House

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  • AAPA is pleased water resources bill is making progress in Congress.
  • WRDA 2016 can continue the progress of 2014 act towards full use of the Harbor Maintenance Tax.
  • Legislation puts WRDA back on a two-year cycle.

The United States House of Representatives passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) by a vote of 399 to 24 last week.

With the Senate having approved its version of the bill on September 15 by a vote of 95 to 3, it sets the stage for the final bill to be negotiated by a House-Senate conference committee.

The American Association of Port Authorities is pleased by the progress the measure has made in Congress. The organization believes it is crucial that WRDA be reauthorized in this Congress to address the needs of America’s ports and other water resources infrastructure, and help strengthen the nation’s international competitiveness.

According to AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle, among the most important aspects of both the House and Senate versions of the legislation is that it puts WRDA back on an every-two-year cycle, avoiding a backlog of projects and adopting policy changes to make the system work more efficiently and fairly.

“Ensuring the viability and effectiveness of our nation’s deep-draft navigation infrastructure is fundamental to a sound economy,” said Nagle. “WRDA 2016 helps do that by getting Congress back to the business of regularly addressing the needs of our ports and other waterway infrastructure.”

The Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) of 2014 was historic, Nagle commented, in that it put the industry on a path towards full use of the Harbor Maintenance Tax, which, he said “is essential to maintain a world-class, twenty-first century port navigation system and provide additional donor equity. WRDA 2016 can continue that progress.”

Nagle also noted that Congress passed the last water resources reauthorization bill in 2014 after a seven-year hiatus. Passing it again this year will put it back, as intended, on an every-two-year cycle, which hasn’t happened since 2000.

“More than a quarter of America’s economy is accounted for by the export and import cargo that transit in and out of our ports,” Nagle added. “In order to keep our economic recovery progressing, we must ensure these goods can move efficiently, without avoidable and costly delays caused by inadequate or poorly maintained infrastructure.”