Senate moves forward on water bill

The Senate on Thursday took a step forward in finishing its work on the first major water infrastructure bill to move through the chamber in six years.

The upper chamber approved four amendments to the bill, which would authorize a series of projects related to waterways across the nation. Funding for the projects would still have to be approved through a separate bill.

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This is the first Senate waterways bill the upper chamber has moved since 2007. It faces an uncertain future in the House, where lawmakers have raised concerns about allowing the Obama administration to pick the water facilities that would be boosted by the measure.

The four amendments were adopted through unanimous consent.

The Senate is expected to continue its work on the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) next week. The bill was introduced by Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and ranking member David Vitter (R-La.).

Boxer has said the bill would support as many as 500,000 jobs.

The four amendments approved Thursday include:

A measure sponsored by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) to promote the study of resilient construction techniques to make sure building codes are upgraded to withstand severe storms and tornados.

An amendment backed by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) that would grant releases from real estate restrictions under the Tennessee Valley Authority Act.

An amendment from Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to authorize funding of water resource and environmental infrastructure assistance projects and programs from the Army Corps of Engineers that have been delayed for a substantial period of time.

A measure from Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) making a technical correction to the bill.

The underlying bill authorizes projects related to flood and storm risk reduction, coast and inland navigation, and ecosystem restoration. The bill also allows infrastructure improvements to shipping lanes and ports.