Week ahead: Conference on water bill appears imminent

To conference or not to conference, that will be the question facing lawmakers when it comes to a new bill to boost ports and waterways in the U.S. that has been approved by both chambers of Congress.

The House passed its version of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (H.R. 3080), following the Senate's passage of its own version of the water measure earlier this spring.

The WRRDA bill does not contain any specific funding, but it does contain authorizations for $8.2 billion in water infrastructure projects if appropriations committee choose to approve them.

Supporters of the bill say the measure will boost commerce in the U.S. and create jobs.

Some conservative groups have criticized the WRRDA bill containing too much additional spending, though that did not stop lawmakers in the House from approving the measure last week on 417-3 vote.

Supporters of the water bill said they are confident the measure will go to conference - and that lawmakers can agree on a version of the legislation that bridges their differences.

"Now the bill will head to a conference committee, where there is good reason to feel very optimistic about the prospects for this legislation," U.S. Chamber of Commerce Transportation and Infrastructure Director Janet Kavinoky wrote in a blog post on the website FreeEnterprise.com.

"Leaders in the House and Senate are both ready to get started on uniting two very good bipartisan bills and there is nothing irreconcilable," Kavinoky wrote. "We are confident that the outcome of the conference committee will be a strong new water resources bill that helps boost economic growth and job creation."

Elsewhere, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold hearings on funding for the U.S. Coast Guard and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)'s airplane certification process on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.

The FAA certification hearing comes after questions were raised earlier this year about the agency's initial approval of the Boeing 787 "Dreamliner" airplane, which had a host of battery problems before the jet was grounded by the FAA for three months.
 
Additionally, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will speak at the U.S.-India Aviation Summit in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.